Unifying cross-platform UIs

February 06, 2018

Santtu Ahonen-February 06, 2018

Bridge the Gap Between Developers and Designers

Imagine a developer starting a new project for a new embedded device application on a Linux desktop. The developer’s company hasn’t yet ramped up manufacturing efforts, so device prototypes are hard to find. Development and testing cycles thus run into a wall until prototypes become available (see Figure 3).

Figure 3: Development and testing cycles depend on the availability of prototypes from design cycles (Source: The Qt Company).

A cross-platform framework often provides work-arounds for these challenges, as they include cross-platform APIs and functionalities. What this means is that developers can use other devices – perhaps a PC, tablet or previous versions of the device – as a development platform to perform the bulk of their work before testing on prototypes and final hardware. Better yet, as mentioned earlier, developers can develop in their desktop platforms first and then throw the draft project onto the embedded device when it’s ready.

Cross-platform APIs are also useful when dealing with business requirements and needs. For example, management may provide a new platform, device or operating system that they need developers to work with. Instead of ramping up for each platform, device or OS, developers with cross-platform frameworks already have the cross-platform APIs taken care of. Developers can then build applications for all kinds of different targets, promoting time to market and taking productivity into their own hands.

On top of all this, designers also need to contribute to UI development. Oftentimes, designers create a robust UI on Photoshop, Illustrator or another design suite, but then they run into challenges as they work with the developer to mimic that interface in a programming environment. This also slows down the project with each and every iteration and update.

Next-generation cross-platform frameworks will provide environments for rapid UI creation. New tools will allow designers to work with the tools they’re comfortable with – Photoshop, Illustrator, etc. – and then directly share those files with developers. Developers will be able to directly access these files and input them into programming environments. This allows designers and developers to work iteration by iteration with automatic updates to the file from either side.

So, What’s Next?

The future is bright for today’s developers. Next-generation tools and frameworks will keep developers adaptable and agile as they create applications for an exponentially growing number of IoT devices. These innovations will also streamline development workflows within a company, allowing developers, designers and others to do what they do best and come together to create cutting-edge applications for embedded devices and beyond.

Santtu Ahonen works in The Qt Company as product manager of the Qt for Device Creation. Santtu has over 20 years of experience in product management on various high technology products including Nokia Maemo as Head of Developer Offering Product Management where Qt was essential part of the plan. Santtu joined back in to Qt technology and The Qt Company in spring 2017.

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