What is IONIC? (and my thoughts on ionic 4)

So what is Ionic ? Ionic is an open source framework that features rich front end building blocks that help us develop hybrid mobile applications and web apps. For those of you who are not familiar with hybrid mobile applications they are built with technologies such as HTML CSS and JavaScript so basically they are web applications with one key difference.

The difference is that they run inside a native-web-view which allows us to have access to some native features on the device and at the same time they can be installed as a native app. For the native features we have something called Cordova which is the bridge between our web application and the native features of the device like the camera the bluetooth the GPS and many more. Cordova offers us more than 200 plugins that we can use in our hybrid application.

Going back to Ionic, at the time of writing this article Ionic is still in version 3 but version 4 is right behind the bloc since we have the beta now to fiddle around with. When Ionic was first released it was build on top of angularJS which is now known as Ionic 1 or IonicJS. Moving on with the development of the web we have Ionic 2 and Angular 2 both based on TypeScript, same goes for Ionic 3. But now with the coming of ionic 4 we have some interesting options available like using Ionic with pretty much any other web framework out there like Angular, React, Vue or no framework at all making Ionic components universal. Ionic team managed to do this by rebuilding their framework using standard web API’s and packaging their components in to web components.

Speaking about web components Ionic team also created Stencil which is a simple compiler for generating web components and progressive web applications making it easier for building fast and feature-rich applications in the browser.

Beside Stencil Ionic created Capacitor - cross platform app runtime that makes it easy to build web applications that run natively on iOS, Android, Desktop, and the web. They call this applications “Native progressive web apps” and they represent the next evolution beyond hybrid applications. So Capacitor is something like a replacement for Cordova but it not only works with mobile native features it also supports desktop native features. But of course this is the word of JavaScript and if you want you can still use Cordova or you can have a mix of both.

In short with ionic 4, you will not only be able to build hybrid mobile applications but desktop apps as well packaging them with Electron as standard native desktop apps. As well as we have a lot more easier way of creating PWA (progressive web apps).

In my opinion if you have a company that does not want to spend a lot of developing the same app for all the different platforms than ionic is a great choice minding the fact that ionic 4 has a lot more to offer than the previous version.

In next article we will create our first ionic 4 app, so if you are interested in that click here.

Cya in the next one.