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Apache Cordova vs Xamarin: What are the differences?

Apache Cordova: Platform for building native mobile applications using HTML, CSS and JavaScript. Apache Cordova is a set of device APIs that allow a mobile app developer to access native device function such as the camera or accelerometer from JavaScript. Combined with a UI framework such as jQuery Mobile or Dojo Mobile or Sencha Touch, this allows a smartphone app to be developed with just HTML, CSS, and JavaScript; Xamarin: Create iOS, Android and Mac apps in C#. Xamarin鈥檚 Mono-based products enable .NET developers to use their existing code, libraries and tools (including Visual Studio*), as well as skills in .NET and the C# programming language, to create mobile applications for the industry鈥檚 most widely-used mobile devices, including Android-based smartphones and tablets, iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch.

Apache Cordova and Xamarin can be primarily classified as "Cross-Platform Mobile Development" tools.

Some of the features offered by Apache Cordova are:

  • Cross-platform (CLI) workflow
  • Platform-centered workflow
  • Hundreds of plugins

On the other hand, Xamarin provides the following key features:

  • Cross-platform development- Thinking about supporting iOS, Android, Mac and Windows? Xamarin allows you to write it all in C#.
  • Reuse existing code- Use your favorite .NET libraries in Xamarin apps. Easily use third-party native libraries and frameworks.
  • Discover as you type- Explore APIs as you type with code autocompletion.

"Lots of plugins" is the primary reason why developers consider Apache Cordova over the competitors, whereas "Power of c# on mobile devices" was stated as the key factor in picking Xamarin.

Apache Cordova is an open source tool with 762 GitHub stars and 327 GitHub forks. Here's a link to Apache Cordova's open source repository on GitHub.

Die Coder GmbH, BetRocket, and Dial Once are some of the popular companies that use Apache Cordova, whereas Xamarin is used by Rdio, Olo, and Rumble. Apache Cordova has a broader approval, being mentioned in 96 company stacks & 45 developers stacks; compared to Xamarin, which is listed in 74 company stacks and 65 developer stacks.

- No public GitHub repository available -

What is Apache Cordova?

Apache Cordova is a set of device APIs that allow a mobile app developer to access native device function such as the camera or accelerometer from JavaScript. Combined with a UI framework such as jQuery Mobile or Dojo Mobile or Sencha Touch, this allows a smartphone app to be developed with just HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

What is Xamarin?

Xamarin鈥檚 Mono-based products enable .NET developers to use their existing code, libraries and tools (including Visual Studio*), as well as skills in .NET and the C# programming language, to create mobile applications for the industry鈥檚 most widely-used mobile devices, including Android-based smartphones and tablets, iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch.
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    What are some alternatives to Apache Cordova and Xamarin?
    PhoneGap
    PhoneGap is a web platform that exposes native mobile device apis and data to JavaScript. PhoneGap is a distribution of Apache Cordova. PhoneGap allows you to use standard web technologies such as HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript for cross-platform development, avoiding each mobile platforms' native development language. Applications execute within wrappers targeted to each platform, and rely on standards-compliant API bindings to access each device's sensors, data, and network status.
    React Native
    React Native enables you to build world-class application experiences on native platforms using a consistent developer experience based on JavaScript and React. The focus of React Native is on developer efficiency across all the platforms you care about - learn once, write anywhere. Facebook uses React Native in multiple production apps and will continue investing in React Native.
    Electron
    With Electron, creating a desktop application for your company or idea is easy. Initially developed for GitHub's Atom editor, Electron has since been used to create applications by companies like Microsoft, Facebook, Slack, and Docker. The Electron framework lets you write cross-platform desktop applications using JavaScript, HTML and CSS. It is based on io.js and Chromium and is used in the Atom editor.
    Ionic
    Free and open source, Ionic offers a library of mobile and desktop-optimized HTML, CSS and JS components for building highly interactive apps. Use with Angular, React, Vue, or plain JavaScript.
    Flutter
    Flutter is a mobile app SDK to help developers and designers build modern mobile apps for iOS and Android.
    See all alternatives
    Decisions about Apache Cordova and Xamarin
    Sezgi Ulu莽am
    Sezgi Ulu莽am
    Sr. Software Engineer at StackShare | 6 upvotes 72.5K views
    Apache Cordova
    Apache Cordova
    PhoneGap
    PhoneGap
    React Native
    React Native
    Flutter
    Flutter
    #JavaScript
    #MobileFrameworks
    #NativeApps

    For a front end dev like me, using a mobile framework for side projects makes more sense than writing a native app. I had used Apache Cordova (formerly PhoneGap) before (because React Native didn't exist yet), and was happy with it. But once React Native came out, it made more sense to go that way instead. It's more efficient and smooth, since it doesn't have the simulation overhead, and has more access to hardware features. It feels cleaner since you don't need to deal with #WebView, using native UI widgets directly. I also considered Flutter . It looks promising, but is relatively new to the game, and React Native seems more stable for now.

    MobileFrameworks #JavaScript NativeApps

    See more
    leonardo silveira
    leonardo silveira
    Software Engineer at Casa Magalh茫es | 2 upvotes 39.3K views
    NativeScript
    NativeScript
    Apache Cordova
    Apache Cordova
    Vue.js
    Vue.js

    So, i am preparing to adopt NativeScript.

    For years my hybrid projects used Apache Cordova.

    "Let's avoid to maintain two teams and double the deliver velocity".

    It was good for a few years, we had those september issues, (i.e. apple broke some backward compatibility) , but for the last years, things seems to be losing the grip faster.

    Last breaking changes, for instance, seems to have a workaround, however that growing feeling that simple things can not rely on so fragile webviews keeps growing faster and faster.

    I've tested nativescript not only on it's "helloworld", but also on how do they respond on issues.

    I got tweed support. I opened an github issue and got answers on less than 10 hours (yes i did it on another timezone and very close to a weekend). I saw the faulty docs get corrected in two days.

    The bad news is i only can adopt nativescript on newer projects, since there is no budget to revamp the current solutions.

    The good news is i can keep coding on Vue.js , without vou router, but that's ok. I've already exchanged vanilla html for real native app with background magic enabled, the router can be easily reproduced.

    See more
    React
    React
    Redux
    Redux
    AngularJS
    AngularJS
    React Native
    React Native
    redux-saga
    redux-saga
    Apache Cordova
    Apache Cordova
    #JavascriptMvcFrameworks

    We had contemplated a long time which #JavascriptMvcFrameworks to use, React and React Native vs AngularJS and Apache Cordova in both web and mobile. Eventually we chose react over angular since it was quicker to learn, less code for simple apps and quicker integration of third party javascript modules. for the full MVC we added Redux.js for state management and redux-saga for async calls and logic. since we also have mobile app along with the web, we can shere logic and model between web and mobile.

    See more
    Jonathan Pugh
    Jonathan Pugh
    Software Engineer / Project Manager / Technical Architect | 19 upvotes 262K views
    Framework7
    Framework7
    JavaScript
    JavaScript
    TypeScript
    TypeScript
    Figma
    Figma
    Visual Studio Code
    Visual Studio Code
    Webpack
    Webpack
    Babel
    Babel
    Ruby
    Ruby
    HTML5
    HTML5
    CouchDB
    CouchDB
    Pouchdb
    Pouchdb
    Font Awesome
    Font Awesome
    Apache Cordova
    Apache Cordova
    CSS 3
    CSS 3
    PhoneGap
    PhoneGap
    #Css
    #CSS3
    #SCSS
    #Sass
    #Less
    #Electron
    #HandleBars
    #Template7
    #Sketch
    #GraphQL
    #HTML5
    #GraphCool

    I needed to choose a full stack of tools for cross platform mobile application design & development. After much research and trying different tools, these are what I came up with that work for me today:

    For the client coding I chose Framework7 because of its performance, easy learning curve, and very well designed, beautiful UI widgets. I think it's perfect for solo development or small teams. I didn't like React Native. It felt heavy to me and rigid. Framework7 allows the use of #CSS3, which I think is the best technology to come out of the #WWW movement. No other tech has been able to allow designers and developers to develop such flexible, high performance, customisable user interface elements that are highly responsive and hardware accelerated before. Now #CSS3 includes variables and flexboxes it is truly a powerful language and there is no longer a need for preprocessors such as #SCSS / #Sass / #less. React Native contains a very limited interpretation of #CSS3 which I found very frustrating after using #CSS3 for some years already and knowing its powerful features. The other very nice feature of Framework7 is that you can even build for the browser if you want your app to be available for desktop web browsers. The latest release also includes the ability to build for #Electron so you can have MacOS, Windows and Linux desktop apps. This is not possible with React Native yet.

    Framework7 runs on top of Apache Cordova. Cordova and webviews have been slated as being slow in the past. Having a game developer background I found the tweeks to make it run as smooth as silk. One of those tweeks is to use WKWebView. Another important one was using srcset on images.

    I use #Template7 for the for the templating system which is a no-nonsense mobile-centric #HandleBars style extensible templating system. It's easy to write custom helpers for, is fast and has a small footprint. I'm not forced into a new paradigm or learning some new syntax. It operates with standard JavaScript, HTML5 and CSS 3. It's written by the developer of Framework7 and so dovetails with it as expected.

    I configured TypeScript to work with the latest version of Framework7. I consider TypeScript to be one of the best creations to come out of Microsoft in some time. They must have an amazing team working on it. It's very powerful and flexible. It helps you catch a lot of bugs and also provides code completion in supporting IDEs. So for my IDE I use Visual Studio Code which is a blazingly fast and silky smooth editor that integrates seamlessly with TypeScript for the ultimate type checking setup (both products are produced by Microsoft).

    I use Webpack and Babel to compile the JavaScript. TypeScript can compile to JavaScript directly but Babel offers a few more options and polyfills so you can use the latest (and even prerelease) JavaScript features today and compile to be backwards compatible with virtually any browser. My favorite recent addition is "optional chaining" which greatly simplifies and increases readability of a number of sections of my code dealing with getting and setting data in nested objects.

    I use some Ruby scripts to process images with ImageMagick and pngquant to optimise for size and even auto insert responsive image code into the HTML5. Ruby is the ultimate cross platform scripting language. Even as your scripts become large, Ruby allows you to refactor your code easily and make it Object Oriented if necessary. I find it the quickest and easiest way to maintain certain aspects of my build process.

    For the user interface design and prototyping I use Figma. Figma has an almost identical user interface to #Sketch but has the added advantage of being cross platform (MacOS and Windows). Its real-time collaboration features are outstanding and I use them a often as I work mostly on remote projects. Clients can collaborate in real-time and see changes I make as I make them. The clickable prototyping features in Figma are also very well designed and mean I can send clickable prototypes to clients to try user interface updates as they are made and get immediate feedback. I'm currently also evaluating the latest version of #AdobeXD as an alternative to Figma as it has the very cool auto-animate feature. It doesn't have real-time collaboration yet, but I heard it is proposed for 2019.

    For the UI icons I use Font Awesome Pro. They have the largest selection and best looking icons you can find on the internet with several variations in styles so you can find most of the icons you want for standard projects.

    For the backend I was using the #GraphCool Framework. As I later found out, #GraphQL still has some way to go in order to provide the full power of a mature graph query language so later in my project I ripped out #GraphCool and replaced it with CouchDB and Pouchdb. Primarily so I could provide good offline app support. CouchDB with Pouchdb is very flexible and efficient combination and overcomes some of the restrictions I found in #GraphQL and hence #GraphCool also. The most impressive and important feature of CouchDB is its replication. You can configure it in various ways for backups, fault tolerance, caching or conditional merging of databases. CouchDB and Pouchdb even supports storing, retrieving and serving binary or image data or other mime types. This removes a level of complexity usually present in database implementations where binary or image data is usually referenced through an #HTML5 link. With CouchDB and Pouchdb apps can operate offline and sync later, very efficiently, when the network connection is good.

    I use PhoneGap when testing the app. It auto-reloads your app when its code is changed and you can also install it on Android phones to preview your app instantly. iOS is a bit more tricky cause of Apple's policies so it's not available on the App Store, but you can build it and install it yourself to your device.

    So that's my latest mobile stack. What tools do you use? Have you tried these ones?

    See more
    Greg Neumann
    Greg Neumann
    Indie, Solo, Developer | 6 upvotes 111.3K views
    Xamarin
    Xamarin
    .NET Core
    .NET Core
    Xamarin Forms
    Xamarin Forms
    ASP.NET
    ASP.NET
    Quasar Framework
    Quasar Framework
    Electron
    Electron
    Vue.js
    Vue.js
    TypeScript
    TypeScript

    Finding the most effective dev stack for a solo developer. Over the past year, I've been looking at many tech stacks that would be 'best' for me, as a solo, indie, developer to deliver a desktop app (Windows & Mac) plus mobile - iOS mainly. Initially, Xamarin started to stand-out. Using .NET Core as the run-time, Xamarin as the native API provider and Xamarin Forms for the UI seemed to solve all issues. But, the cracks soon started to appear. Xamarin Forms is mobile only; the Windows incarnation is different. There is no Mac UI solution (you have to code it natively in Mac OS Storyboard. I was also worried how Xamarin Forms , if I was to use it, was going to cope, in future, with Apple's new SwiftUI and Google's new Fuchsia.

    This plethora of techs for the UI-layer made me reach for the safer waters of using Web-techs for the UI. Lovely! Consistency everywhere (well, mostly). But that consistency evaporates when platform issues are addressed. There are so many web frameworks!

    But, I made a simple decision. It's just me...I am clever, but there is no army of coders here. And I have big plans for a business app. How could just 1 developer go-on to deploy a decent app to Windows, iPhone, iPad & Mac OS? I remembered earlier days when I've used Microsoft's ASP.NET to scaffold - generate - loads of Code for a web-app that I needed for several charities that I worked with. What 'generators' exist that do a lot of the platform-specific rubbish, allow the necessary customisation of such platform integration and provide a decent UI?

    I've placed my colours to the Quasar Framework mast. Oh dear, that means Electron desktop apps doesn't it? Well, Ive had enough of loads of Developers saying that "the menus won't look native" or "it uses too much RAM" and so on. I've been using non-native UI-wrapped apps for ages - the date picker in Outlook on iOS is way better than the native date-picker and I'd been using it for years without getting hot under the collar about it. Developers do get so hung-up on things that busy Users hardly notice; don't you think?. As to the RAM usage issue; that's a bit true. But Users only really notice when an app uses so much RAM that the machine starts to page-out. Electron contributes towards that horizon but does not cause it. My Users will be business-users after all. Somewhat decent machines.

    Looking forward to all that lovely Vue.js around my TypeScript and all those really, really, b e a u t I f u l UI controls of Quasar Framework . Still not sure that 1 dev can deliver all that... but I'm up for trying...

    See more
    Interest over time
    Reviews of Apache Cordova and Xamarin
    Review ofXamarinXamarin

    I'm working in Huge company and I'm in charge to choose the cross-platform environment to develop Mobile application for all our services. I choose Xamarin but because the error i get everytime in Visual Studio, I want to leave it and recommand another solution. In fact that's why I'm here.

    Weird, Install VS2017 with Xamarin on a new PC Create a new app GOT ERRORS.....!!!!!

    Thank you for considering this

    How developers use Apache Cordova and Xamarin
    Avatar of Foundbite
    Foundbite uses XamarinXamarin

    Xamarin enables us to develop for 3 platforms (iOS, Android and Windows Phone) with one core codebase coded in C#. Xamarin has allowed us to release an app on all three platforms and develop them simultaneously - not bad for a team of 2!

    Avatar of papaver
    papaver uses Apache CordovaApache Cordova

    used in conjunction with ionic to build out ios and android app for a client. a little slow to run on devices but saves a ton on development time.

    Avatar of Ralic Lo
    Ralic Lo uses Apache CordovaApache Cordova

    Used Apache Cordova to package single page web application written HTML/CSS/javascript as a iOS/Android application.

    Avatar of Ana Phi Sancho
    Ana Phi Sancho uses XamarinXamarin

    Self taught : acquired knowledge or skill on one's own initiative. Platform: OSX 10.8 or later. Mac computer user.

    Avatar of MobiBoats
    MobiBoats uses Apache CordovaApache Cordova

    Used with Ionic to support various plugins and integrations with the native environment of iOS and Android.

    Avatar of Robert Brown
    Robert Brown uses XamarinXamarin

    Build & ship OS X & iOS apps from Visual Studio on Windows. Requires paid team license.

    Avatar of Daniel Kovacs
    Daniel Kovacs uses XamarinXamarin

    Mobile app development with PCL and Xamarin.iOS and Xamarin.Android.

    Avatar of Jo茫o Alvarenga
    Jo茫o Alvarenga uses Apache CordovaApache Cordova

    Compilar o webapp, transformando-o em aplicativos nativos

    Avatar of Olo
    Olo uses XamarinXamarin

    Cross platform, white labelled native mobile apps

    Avatar of Evan Luc
    Evan Luc uses Apache CordovaApache Cordova

    Cross platform mobile development framework.

    How much does Apache Cordova cost?
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