The purpose of this post is two-fold:
- To let you know about our recent appearance on the popular WP Dev Podcast
- To talk about our position towards Kendo UI on Windows Phone
Kendo UI on Windows Phone Dev Podcast
I had the privilege of joining Ryan and Travis Lowdermilk last week for a recording of the popular Windows Phone Dev Podcast. We talked Kendo UI, HTML5, and, of course, Windows Phone. It was a great conversation and we want to thank the guys at WPDev Podcast for having us on the show. If you missed the live broadcast, you can catch the episode online (Kendo UI discussion starts around the 27 minute mark):
Episode 053: “5.9,QUADCORE,NFC,3D,LTE,128GB Windows Phone"
During the course of the conversation, we talked about Kendo UI Mobile and the reasons we're not currently targeting Windows Phone support. We've received a lot of similar questions from the community about Windows Phone support, so we want to take a minute to explain our approach towards Microsoft's latest mobile platform.
Kendo UI Mobile Support for WP7
From the outset, Kendo UI Mobile is trying to deliver on the promise that we can help developers build mobile apps with HTML5 that automatically adapt to look native on different platforms. When the app is used on iOS, it follows iOS layout conventions and styling. When the app is on Android, it follows Android layout conventions and styling. It's cool stuff. We're starting with these two platforms (iOS and Android) because they're the biggest, but we always planned to expand the vision to more platforms after v1 based on customer feedback.
Supporting Windows Phone 7 is tricky, though.
Windows Phone 7 presents a few obstacles for our mobile solution that the other platforms do not. For example:
- The Windows Phone "Metro UI" concepts are radically different from iOS and Android (and Blackberry and Symbian, for that matter). That makes it more challenging to do native UI "automatic adaptation" on Windows Phone. Frankly, we're not sure how feasible it is to automatically translate an iOS/Android UI to a Windows Phone native UI. But that's not the biggest problem…
- The IE9 browser that ships with Windows Phone "Mango" (it was IE7 before Mango) doesn't offer enough HTML5 support to deliver a quality app experience. It's a lot better than previous mobile IE attempts, but with no support for touch events, orientation change, and CSS3 Flexbox layouts (used by Kendo UI Mobile), IE9 would require a lot of polyfilling to be useful for Kendo UI Mobile.
Add to that Windows Phone's relatively low market adoption, and we have decided that now is not the right time to support this mobile platform. It would require too many hacks to support too few people.
Don't Other Mobile HTML5 Frameworks Support WP7?
Yes, kinda, sorta. There are other HTML5 mobile frameworks that claim Windows Phone support, but any quick test reveals that they face similar problems overcoming the limits of this mobile browser (the experiences are buggy and inconsistent). We prefer not to claim support for Windows Phone until we can deliver a fully working, quality experience that you and your users expect.
Meanwhile, let me be quick to point-out that we're talking about Kendo UI Mobile support for WP7. Many parts of Kendo UI Core, Web, and DataViz will work just fine on Windows Phone. So if you're building a mobile website, and that "native" look-and-feel is not the goal, you could use Kendo UI's data source, templates, validation, and even data viz to enrich the experience.
It's the mobile-specific widgets that have trouble due to Windows Phone's weaker (relative to other phones) HTML5/CSS3 runtime.
Will You Ever Support Windows Phone?
It's a bit early to say definitively, but if the market for Windows Phone continues to grow and the customer demand for HTML5 tools exists, it is very likely Kendo UI Mobile will eventually provide some degree of support for Windows Phone. The key will be the arrival of IE10 for Windows Phone. The IE10 browser, at least on the desktop, has everything you need to build first-class HTML5 experiences, so if this gets to the devices, Kendo UI will be in business.
Of course, there's still that whole "radically different" UI metaphor to deal with, but we think that's a solvable problem once the technology support exists.
In the meantime, Telerik provides other great solutions for Windows Phone developers. The RadControls for Windows Phone provide some pretty cool tools for native Windows Phone app development, and later this year Telerik will start discussing its plans for native Windows 8 tools and controls. For now, that's the best option for Windows Phone development.
Where does all of this leave us? Let me summarize quickly:
- If you're not trying to build a "native" app with HTML/JS, you can use parts of Kendo UI Core, Web, and DataViz on Windows Phone
- If you want to build a native WP7 app with HTML/JS, don't. The mobile IE9 browser is not up to the task.
- If you need to build a WP7 app, the best approach is to use native tools (like the RadControls for WP7)
- If IE10 comes to future versions of Windows Phone, Kendo UI Mobile support will be re-evaluated
Hopefully this fully clarifies why we can't deliver support for Windows Phone today. Stay tuned for future developments in our roadmap, After all, Windows Phone 8 may not be that far away!