R – Cross-platform development – Go with a cross-platform UI toolkit or native on multiple platforms


I'm looking for some arguments to pitch to my boss and fellow developers.

We're currently finishing up the preliminary UI mockups and getting ready to move on to the next phases of development. In the meantime, I've been digging through the depths of the Carbon, Win32, and wxWidgets APIs attempting to make some of the controls have a more native look and feel on the Mac and Windows platforms.

The more I dig into the Win32 and Carbon APIs to implement the things we want in our project's UI, the more antiquated they feel, and the more I'm beginning to think that we should be implementing the project as described in the last paragraph here.

We're using wxWidgets for our current projects. wxWidgets is coming along on the wxCocoa port, but it doesn't look like it's going to be ready for prime-time before we start major development efforts on our new application. On the Windows side of things, it wraps the Win32 API rather than WinForms or WPF (likely due to native vs. managed code).

We're already designing the system with the MVC pattern in mind, thus aside from having to write two native UIs, it should be very doable, and, IMHO, easier to get the desired UI effects using modern APIs such as Cocoa and WPF.

I've been trying to push these points subtly, but the start of major development is coming soon. Does anyone have any suggestions on how to pitch using native UI toolkits in our next application vs sticking with wxWidgets?

Thanks in advance.

Best Solution

Create your core code in Standard C++ and use Objective-C++ with Cocoa to create your user experience on the Mac and C++/CLI plus C# with WPF to create your user experience on Windows. Follow the platform guidelines for the Mac in your Mac version, for Windows in your Windows version, and don't even bother thinking about trying to share user interface code.

One good way to manage this is, instead of just Model-View-Controller, following a Model-Model Controller-View Controller-View architecture. Your Model Controllers are platform-independent and manage the higher-level functionality of your application. (For example, its entire concept of documents, file format, job queues, and so on.) Your View Controllers are platform-dependent and mediate between your Model Controllers and your user experience.

Of course you'll probably also want some platform-dependent code at the model level too; for example to use NSOperation on the Mac and thread pools on Windows to implement job queues. Just create your own lightweight abstractions for that sort of thing.

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