Kendo UI vs Ionic—which one should you use?

Published Oct 08, 2014Last updated Aug 24, 2017

The Kendo UI framework is a popular HTML5, jQuery-based tool for building modern web apps, and Burke and Cody from the Kendo UI team recently sat down with us during Codementor Office Hour to answer some of their questions concerning Kendo UI.

If you’re wondering whether you should use Kendo UI or Ionic to build your mobile apps, this article may help you decide.

The text below is a summary done by the Codementor team and may vary from the original video and if you see any issues, please let us know!

Kendo UI vs Ionic

In short: Use whichever one of those best suits your application’s needs.

Both are open source, and both are supported on all mobile platforms. For those who are concerned about performance issues and are still up in the air about, performance is almost a non-issue now. This is the time to build hybrid apps.

If you’re very tied to Angular, you’d probably want to choose Ionic. However, Kendo UI mobile will have Angular integration Q3 2014, and it’s pretty much the same integration Ionic offers. Furthermore, Kendo UI Mobile has it’s own application structure, so if you’re not so convinced about the Angular way of doing things, Kendo UI mobile is a great choice.

Moreover, Kendo UI mobile has this idea of adaptive rendering, where it can mimic the look and feel of the operating system, depending on where it’s running. It also runs across Blackberry, Windows Phone, iOS, and Android, so you get wide platform targeting. Kendo UI sniffs out the platform first and then make a lot of specific adjustments based on what platform you’re on (fonts, CSS transitions, etc.), so it’s very flexible compared to Angular or Ionic, as they don’t do anything special on top of Angular.

Lastly, Kendo UI mobile was built almost 3 years ago, during which it has always been a hybrid framework, so we’ve already run into and solved most problems that accompany hybrid frameworks. We’ve been fighting the mobile web before it was cool to fight the mobile web, so it’s a very mature framework and does a lot of things to increase performance strategy-wise.

How easy is it to integrate Kendo IU to web and mobile apps?

Kendo UI is jQuery-based, and they are essentially jQuery plugins, so adding a Kendo UI widget is like adding a jQuery plugin to anything. Whether it’s in a mobile or desktop context, it’s still just a jQuery plugin in its most basic form, so it goes anywhere a jQuery plugin would. If you just want to use a dropdown list, just use it. You don’t have to use a MVVM, a SPA framework, or whatnot.

The mobile widgets also run outside of the application tools. The web widgets work standalone of Angular, as they’re directives on top of Kendo UI to do Angular development. The widgets would work anywhere, for example in a Backbone app. You don’t need to abandon, for example, Ember.js in fear that Kendo UI widgets won’t work in that application. All mobile widgets have been decoupled from the application framework, so you could use Ember to build a mobile app and then use Kendo UI widget with the app.

Furthermore, Kendo UI Mobile has its own idea of an application. When you’re assembling a Kendo UI Mobile application, you use views. When you’re all finished, you use data-roles, attributes and such to configure the UI components. When you’re ready, you create a new Kendo UI mobile application and pass in the document. Kendo UI mobile will go through the documentation and create different mobile views out of your different views in your DOM, and then it stitches everything together so that when you click on an anchor to a different view, instead of going to a different page, your view slides in as it should on mobile.

In conclusion, if you’re already planning to use Kendo UI, you don’t need Angular, Ember or anything else. You don’t have to adopt a library just to use a widget either. Kendo UI mobile is enough end-to-end, as it’s really taking the web and making it work as a native application.

How can you leverage the Telerik platform to efficiently turn an existing web app into iOS and Android hybrid app?

The Telerik platform is a set of tools for building hybrid and mobile applications, whether that’s backend, testing, deploying, prototyping, building with app builder, etc. The Telerik platform’s app builder is a tool that runs either in the browser or as a line of text plugin you can use from your command line. You can add it to your visual studio, and it scaffolds out hybrid mobile apps for you, including all the Cordova and Phonegap libraries, etc. It also includes an emulator you can run on the desktop, along with companion apps you can run on your device to view it from there. Its build tools let you build for iOS, Android, Windows Phone, or even a PC. So app builder makes all this process a whole lot easier that saves you from making a crazy build chain for using Phonegap.

However, don’t try to take a complex web app and drop it into a hybrid one in the context of app builder. When you’re developing for the app store, you should be focusing on building a hybrid app, it’s not a good idea to drop an existing app and drop it in Phonegap to create an instant app, because most UI ideas that applies specifically for the web don’t translate exactly one-for-one to a hybrid app. If it’s a complete frontend application, you can of course reuse the backend, whether it’s Kendo UI’s or somebody else’s. All in all, as long as you handle the decoupling between the frontend and backend well, you will at least get to reuse half of your web app.

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