This article covers an open-source cloud-based app development tool to build Android and iOS apps. Developing a new mobile app from the ground up is not everyone’s cup of tea. You need at least a basic understanding of the platform with good programming skills. On top of that, different platforms use a different set of programming languages which makes the process of developing a multi-platform app more complex and time-consuming.
Mat|r is an open-source cloud-based application development platform where you can develop Android and iOS apps simultaneously. Basically, you have to develop a single app and this tool creates a build for each platform. To achieve this, Mat|r uses Mat|r Script, an in-house developed extensible high-level programming language.
Unlike many other programming languages, Mat|r Script is designed to be simpler which is easy to learn and doesn’t require prior programming knowledge. It includes several native functionalities of the supported platforms like accessing the camera, adding a map, sharing images, etc. The website offers complete documentation of the language along with concepts, syntax, and examples. You can read more about it here. For the app UI, this tool has a simple UI Builder where you can easily select what type of UI elements you want to add. Then, you can select the respective UI palettes, edit their layout properties, customize with given themes, and embed them to the app.
After building the app, you can compile and download the app package for Android and iOS. This tool can also help you deploy and distribute your app on the respective platform. With that said, let’s check out this multi-platform app development tool in details.
Open Source App Development Tool to Build Android, iOS Apps
Mat|r has a collaborative hub where it features hundreds of user-submitted app templates and source codes from all around the world. Having this hub 1-click away from the IDE, you can easily find relevant app elements and hardly need to build things from group up. If you are planning to make your app open source, you can also publish your app’s source code to the Hub.
Building Apps for Android and iOS Simultaneously
To start building apps with Mat|r, you need to create a Mat|r account which is absolutely free and doesn’t require any credit card information. When you log in on the Mat|r website with your account, it takes you to the programming IDE. In the IDE, you need to create a project and then you can build apps under that project. The project name is included in the app package name. I think naming your project on your team/organization would be wiser so you don’t have to edit it again.
After creating a project, you can create an application under that. To create an app, you have to provide a name for the app and select whether you want it to make it public or keep it private. This tool also gives you an open-source for open source projects. In this option, you can choose whether you want to publish your app source code on Mat|r Hub or not.
The first step of the app development id Model. This tool has a nice coding IDE where it indexes all the resource files on the left and let you open multiple files in separate windows. At the top of the resource index, you can create new folders, code new Mat|r scripts, and add new UI elements. The right section of the IDE featured Constants, Endpoints, Async section along with a “Libraries” section. You can create respective files under these sections. All the files you create gets listed under the “Libraries” section for quick access. You can also customize the theme and font size of the coding IDE as per your convenience.
The next major step of app development is UI. The Build UI section of this tool is similar to Programming Model. It index all the used UI elements on the left and shows a real-time preview of the UI in the middle. The section on the right has Properties, Palette, and Themes sections. The Palette section contains various UI elements which you can add to the UI in 1-click. After adding a palette, you can customize it from the Properties section and personalize its appearance from the Themes section.
After modeling and UI, most of the work is done. Now you have to create application summary and Document is the section where you can do that. In this section, you can select a category for your app and provide a detailed introduction to your app. If you use this tool to deploy your app, this document will be used as the app description on the store.
Self-updating App Testing
One of the unique features of this app development tool is self-updating app testing. Most of the app development tool requires you to first compile your app in order to test it. And you have to do this every time when you make changes. This is a time-consuming task and Mat|r has a solution for it. In this tool, your app gets updated automatically whenever you make a change.
Since this tool is cloud-based, it lets you test the app on your actual mobile devices. There are native Mat|r Android and iOS apps build for app testing. Instead of using an emulator, you can remotely test the app on an actual device. It generates a QR code which you can scan in the Mat|r app and loads your app on the phone.
To do that, you have to log in with Mat|r app with the same account which you are using in the Mat|r IDE. The app has a QR Code scanner option at the top right corner. Simply activate the scanner and point it to the QR code in the Mat|r IDE. This loads your app where you can do complete testing on it.
Publish Open Source App to Mat|r Hub
Next to the testing, this IDE has a Publish section. This section is for the open-source apps. If you’ve selected the open-source option while creating the app, you can publish it to the Mat|r Hub from here. All you have to do is enter a publish name and click the “Publish” button and your app will be available on the hub.
Build App File
After modeling and testing the app, you can build the app package from the Build App section. In this section, you have to enter the final name you give to your app and select a default behavior in case of exception. You can also edit the app package name here. Then, you can provide your Firebase API Key, ID, and database URL for the respective platform to link that with the app. After that, you can download the app package (ZIP) for both, Android and iOS. Upon downloading the package, you can compile it and upload to the store.
Deploy App to Store
If you don’t know how to deploy your app to the respective store or don’t have time to do that, this tool can help you with that. From the Deploy section, you can send a message to the Mat|r team for app deploy assistance and they’ll be in touch with you for further procedure.
Build Android & iOS apps simultaneously with Mat|r here.
Mat|r is a decent app development tool that saves you lots of time by helping you build apps for Android and iOS devices simultaneously. It obviously has a gentle learning curve with new Mat|r Script but simple and time-saving process totally worth it. With the Mat|r Hub, you can collaboration and reuse code. And, if you get stuck somewhere, you can always go through some quick tutorials.