Telerik, a software development company from Sofia, Bulgaria, just announced Nativescript, an intriguing new platform for building cross-platform native apps with JavaScript. This comes after Progress, the US software giant, acquired Telerik in October 2014.

At Codified, our developers extensive use of Xamarin is down to its multiple advantages. Our clients enjoy significant code share (up to 70% in general) and the productive benefits of using C# to build a range of demanding applications.

The NativeScript platform is a cousin of Xamarin with the Mono virtual machine replaced by either V8 (Android) or WebKit (iOS and Windows Phone) and Javascript in place of the C# programming language.

At a NativeScript meetup the Codified team got a great overview of the platform by Telerik and access to the Alpha version of the tooling.

The first impressions were good. Nativescript’s performance is great and their XAML-based layout language (which cross translates to native iOS and Xamarin code) has real potential for increasing productivity. Telerik’s stated reasons for building Nativescript are intriguing. Their aim is to reduce their own dependence on Cordova (which has loads of performance problems and often ends up in a strange quasi-web, quasi native feeling) and to prove that building something of this scale was within their abilities. These are high ambitions.

The NativeScript platform supports TypeScript and JavaScript. The TypeScript support is appreciated, especially for those of us coming from a strongly-typed C# background, and, in general, adds a lot of nice touches to the language. The platform’s reliance on a JavaScript virtual machine is a misfortune, since this means ES6 support is going to be in the far distant future.

There are, however, two definite advantages that emerged. The platform makes easy work when pulling a fair chunk of JavaScript from existing mobile websites, as there is support for a lot of existing JavaScript libraries. The other advantage is that there are just way more JavaScript developers out there than C#.

One aspect we do like is that it will be all free and open source for those who don’t want to use their IDE, Telerik AppBuilder.

Some of the Codified team had concerns over sharing code between the platforms though. While there are some abstracted libraries that handle media playback, cameras and maps, in our experience these result in a lowest common denominator that doesn’t allow you to take advantage of the specialist features. Time will tell.

These are interesting times for mobile development and after React Native from Facebook has a public release we’ll be doing a “State of the Union” of what’s out there for cross platform development.