Iflexion
The Peculiarities of Mobile Development with Sencha

The Peculiarities of Mobile Development with Sencha

Sencha was first released back in 2010 and has since taken its rightful place among a myriad of versatile cross platform mobile development tools. It’s definitely one of the more mature products in this niche, with all of the bells and whistles that usually accompany such a complex and complete product.

However, since it’s initial release, a lot of things have changed. Alternative products have been popping up in this category for quite a while now given the extraordinary growth of the mobile app segment, propelled by the ever increasing availability of portable gadgets. Not to mention that the whole idea of ‘cross platform’ has taken up a more complex meaning. Apps are taking over all of the platforms, including desktops, while in 2010, desktop apps were still a novelty concept.

So how does Sencha compares to other cross-platform mobile development solutions? Can it really stand its ground against similar products? Should new developers consider it as their starting point when building their career in mobile application development? We’ll try to compare it to similar tools and go over some of Sencha’s characteristics to answer these and other questions about it.

Entry Barrier

Entry Barrier

There’s no point in comparing the most expensive variations of similar cross platform solutions. Just like there’s no point in comparing different cars in the same segment and their premium specs. They’ll all be pretty good and relatively similar. That’s why we’re going to talk about the basic package.

And in this department Sencha doesn’t really shine. In fact, some very prominent Sencha Touch advocates are very displeased with Sencha and their current pricing strategy. Josh Morony, an advocate of Sencha in the past, thinks that their current pricing will essentially kill off Sencha Touch as a product. This notion has been reiterated by other developers.

In case, if you didn’t know, Sencha Touch is free for commercial use, but it recently merged with its big brother, Ext JS, unifying their licensing and frameworks. Furthermore, you’re currently unable to buy a single-developer license. Here’s how Sencha compares with similar products and their lowest pricing. Mobile Angular JS, which are open source, so you can be sure that there isn’t any funny business with their licensing.

Starting price of the premium (paid) product version

Community

Sencha, being an aged product, has a pretty substantial community around it. However, if Google Trends can be used to gauge the interest towards a topic, then things aren’t looking very good for Sencha.

Google Trends for Cross-platform mobile frameworks

Part of this can be attributed to the fact that Sencha isn’t open source. However, there is additional evidence of a stagnation within the Sencha community: the discussions simply aren’t happening. When compared to the dynamics of similar products, this is another strike against Sencha.

New Stack Exchange discussions per day, by platform

The Reddit community didn’t have any nice things about Sencha/Ext JS either, with people being vocally against the platform and its various iterations.

Jobs

This is an additional area that new developers need to pay attention to. If you’re considering investing your time into learning Sencha Touch, it might not be the best choice. The job market reiterates the same trends that we’ve described before, with the number of available jobs for Sencha Touch developers constantly dwindling.

The job posting trend of jobs advertised citing Sencha Touch as a proportion of all permanent or contract IT jobs with a match in the Libraries, Frameworks & Software Standards category

The job posting trend of jobs advertised citing Sencha Touch
Niche

Sencha is considered by many developers to be a niche platform. It doesn’t have the mainstream backing that allows many of its competitors to fully rely on the power of the community to propel it forward. Of course, this product is geared towards enterprise clients, but each one of those clients is represented by people and individual developers.

Mobile development platforms by primiry segments

Niche software products have a number of other disadvantages:

  • They’re more expensive in the long run, as niche developers might be harder to find
  • They become obsolete quickly, not being able to keep up with popular products. For example, Sencha doesn’t have a Github community that constantly works to perfect the product
  • They don’t work for mass markets, because they lack flexibility.

OOP

If you’re a rookie developer or someone who doesn’t really like or understand object-oriented programming, then Sencha is not for you. It has a much higher learning curve than comparable frameworks because of this fact. This isn’t like Python that was devised with readability in mind (apologies for comparing apples to oranges). This means lots of time that might be a potential waste if OOP is a totally alien concept for you at this point. And that time is very valuable, especially when benefits are not as obvious, like with Sencha and its products.

Big Brother

It’s still pretty hard to talk about Sencha Touch and leave out Ext JS. As you’ve learned earlier, these 2 products have merged in many regards and so it’s also important to take a look at what is essentially the commercial version of Sencha Touch. Let’s compare it to other JS frameworks.

Trends in the usage of popular JavaScript libraries, May 2017

This is where it stumbled onto the same ‘niche’ issue that its free version faces.

Conclusion

Sencha still offers a formidable cross-platform development product that’s been around for quite a while now. It has a number of very unique and distinctive features, like available elements library, which similar products can’t boast about. At the same time, it has specific archaic features that are quite obstructive for a modern cross-platform experience, like the absence of full support for RWD.

The community around this platform is pretty big, but its glory days are behind it, with less people and developer activities among the mediums where it’s represented. This is caused by a number of factors that include unwise pricing and product decisions that further segmented the base for Sencha’s products. Another huge factor is the growth of open source and non-open source alternatives. You can build cross-platform experiences practically for free or for a fraction of the cost that the full Sencha experience might be offered at.

John Barnett

  • Grant P.

    Glad I stumbled across this blog while doing a bit of research. I need to become a quick study at Sencha to sign off on a project at work but I’m clueless about all things related to mobile development. Great overview and easy for the layman to understand. This post plus the conversation you link to on reddit really provide a lot of information for the uninitiated.