Exploring Kivy: A Hidden Gem Among Lesser-Known Cross-Platform UI Frameworks

In the ever-evolving world of app development, it’s not just about creating a great app. It’s about creating a great app that’s accessible on as many platforms as possible. That’s where cross-platform UI frameworks come into play.

You’ve likely heard of the big names like React Native and Flutter. But there’s a whole world of lesser-known frameworks out there. These hidden gems offer unique features and benefits that can help you take your app development to the next level.

In this article, we’ll dive into some of these lesser-known cross-platform UI frameworks. We’ll explore what they offer, how they work, and why you might want to consider them for your next project. So let’s get started and discover the untapped potential of these under-the-radar tools.

Exploring Xamarin

Let’s shift gears and dive into Xamarin, a powerful yet under-utilized cross-platform UI framework. Launched by Microsoft, Xamarin offers the ability to code once and deploy everywhere. Yes, you heard it right! This means we’re looking at reduced development time, and naturally, cost.

Understanding the Xamarin Architecture is crucial to reaping its benefits. Unlike React Native or Flutter, Xamarin deploys fully compiled code, not interpretations, taking the application’s performance several notches higher. Fully compiled code is notably faster and eliminates risks associated with interpreted code.

It’s important to consider Xamarin’s integration with Visual Studio. The combination of these two provides a comprehensive toolkit for developers to work with, enabling seamless development of iOS, Android, and Windows apps.

The Xamarin.Forms library is a vital piece of the puzzle here. This library consists of common UI controls that are mapped to native controls at runtime. Thus, you can use one code base to create a generic app for various platforms, drastically simplifying the whole process.

Xamarin’s community support and advanced debugging tools are another reason to consider it. Issues can be resolved much quicker thanks to the array of resources and solution options available.

Let’s not forget, Xamarin is free for small teams, an excellent option for budget-conscious projects, especially startups.

Getting to Know Apache Cordova

Beyond Xamarin, it’s worth exploring other lesser-known cross-platform frameworks. Today, we’ll delve into Apache Cordova, a burgeoning contender in this field.

Apache Cordova, formerly known as PhoneGap, is a mobile application development framework that enables developers to build apps using HTML5, JavaScript, and CSS. It’s worth noting this isn’t the typical compiling scenario. In fact, Cordova’s strategy involves packaging the app in a native container that can access the device functions.

One of the areas where Cordova truly shines is its plugin architecture. Plug-ins provide a bridge for Cordova to tap into native device capabilities, which aren’t directly accessible via HTML and JavaScript. Over time, the community has developed a vast library of plug-ins further making app development with Apache Cordova a breeze.

Here is an overview of Apache Cordova’s strengths:

  • Programming language flexibility: Developers are not mandated to learn a new language. Familiarity with HTML5, JavaScript, and CSS suffices.
  • Cross-platform support: Enables the development of apps for Android, iOS, and Windows under one roof.
  • Large plug-in selection: There are thousands of plug-ins available from the Cordova community.

Cordova’s emphasis on web technologies leads to an interesting advantage – developers can harness the full capabilities of their hardware just like they would in a native app, while programming in languages they’re already familiar with. This reduces the learning curve, making Cordova an attractive solution for many teams.

It also integrates well with popular tools and frameworks such as AngularJS, jQuery Mobile, and Bootstrap. Integration with these tools paves the way for an even richer user interface.

Middleware frameworks further accentuate the effectiveness of Cordova. These are software that can be employed to better the performance of your app, offer security features and make app management a pinch.

The Power of NativeScript

Let’s now shift our focus to NativeScript, another eye-catching cross-platform UI framework. NativeScript aligns well with the needs of developers that seek fast, efficient methods to craft performance-driven, native mobile apps. Like Apache Cordova, NativeScript allows developers to use familiar web languages like JavaScript, TypeScript, Vue.js, and Angular. Yet, one crucial distinction drives NativeScript ahead: its ability to tap into native APIs directly.

I’ve often encountered developers hesitant to explore new grounds, but embracing NativeScript can reap significant benefits. NativeScript offers direct access to native device APIs, a feature unavailable in many other cross-platform frameworks. It allows code reuse for different platforms, speeding up the development process immensely. Moreover, NativeScript doesn’t rely on a WebView, resulting in a swift, native performance that’s unmatchable by traditional hybrid apps.

NativeScript’s simplicity shines vividly when you attempt to gain seamless UX across Android and iOS devices. Developers no longer need to fumble with different codes for varying platforms; instead, they can leverage a single JavaScript codebase, utilizing native components to guarantee a consistently high-quality user experience.

Another mark in NativeScript’s favor is the inclusion of hot module replacement (HMR), a feature designed to save considerable time during development. HMR empowers developers by ridding the frustrating process of recompiling and restarting the app after each modification. You make a change; HMR reflects it immediately, keeping the app state intact.

The NativeScript community, though smaller compared to Xamarin or Cordova, is growing rapidly and contributing to its rich plugin ecosystem. Replete with prebuilt solutions, it enables developers to extend their apps effortlessly, sometimes without a single line of extra code.

Xamarin Apache Cordova NativeScript
Programming Languages C# JavaScript, HTML5, CSS JavaScript, TypeScript, Vue.js, Angular
Native API Access Limited Through plugins Direct Access
Hot Module Replacement ✔️
Community Support Large Large Growing

Harnessing the Capabilities of Kivy

Our journey into the world of lesser-known cross-platform UI frameworks wouldn’t be complete without taking a closer look at Kivy. Kivy is a free, open-source Python library that’s perfect for rapidly developing applications that can run on almost any device. It’s not just limited to mobile or desktop applications. Kivy supports a multitude of inputs devices and protocols, thereby extending its utility to multi-touch applications.

Being a Python library, Kivy presents a strong case for rapid application development. As it’s known, Python is one of the easiest programming languages to learn. With Kivy’s easy-to-understand APIs, you’re essentially getting the power to create versatile applications in a language that’s beginner-friendly. That’s definitely a win-win for budding developers.

Leveraging Kivy significantly simplifies the task of developing UIs for cross-platform apps. Like NativeScript, Kivy allows developers to access native OS features directly but via Python rather than JavaScript.

Kivy also offers a unique feature named Kivy Language (kv), designed for simplifying UI design. This isn’t something you’d come across in other libraries. KV allows for faster UI prototyping, and can greatly speed up the development process.

Even though Kivy has a small but dedicated community, there is a wide variety of reusable modules available for developers to use. Here’s a quick peek at some of them:

  • Kivy Garden: This contains widgets and libraries, developed and maintained by the Kivy community.
  • Pyjnius/pyobjus: These provide access to Java/Objective-C classes directly from Python.

Although it might not have the same crowd as Xamarin or Cordova, Kivy is an excellent framework that deserves your attention. Whether you’re a newbie developer or a seasoned coder, Kivy’s richness and simplicity boost productivity and offer a less bumpy road to app development.

However, as a Kivy developer, you might encounter fewer resources online due to its smaller community size. But fear not, Kivy’s well-documented API and supportive community forums are there if you ever need help.

Speaking of smaller communities, let’s navigate through some more IT backroads and take a look at another lesser-known but highly useful cross-platform UI framework – Flutter.


It’s clear that Kivy stands out as a versatile cross-platform UI framework. Despite its smaller community, it’s robust and user-friendly features make it a worthy contender in the cross-platform development arena. With its unique UI design tool, Kivy Language, and a range of reusable modules, it’s a beneficial tool for developers at any level. It’s worth noting that while Kivy may not have the same recognition as Xamarin or Cordova, it’s a powerful Python library that enables rapid application development across multiple devices. So, don’t shy away from exploring this lesser-known framework. It might just become your new favorite tool for cross-platform development. And remember, there’s always more to discover, like Flutter, another promising player in the cross-platform UI framework field.