When Ionic first came out, I took it for a spin and I was really excited about what I saw. Now, a couple of years down the line, I decided to revisit it too see what it has become.
Ionic is basically a frontend (UI) framework that makes it easy to develop hybrid mobile apps for iOS and Android. It relies on Cordova and Android SDK for the basics and then adds own services and widges on top of that. In a way, Ionic is similar to Trigger.io.
Having everything available through a command line is really nice and it is generally how I prefer it. It keeps a clean separation of concerns and you can then compose your own tool-chain, by simply stiching together the right commands using scripting. It is also very automation friendly.
The Getting Started page makes a good job of explaining it, but assuming you alreay have XCode installed (I am on Mac OSX), then it basically boils down to
If you come from a background of modern web development, the overall developer experience with Ionic is very familiar and smooth. Gulp is used as the base task runner, along with npm and bower for package management.
Generally, you will develop your app in “web mode” in a browser for quick tunraround times, and then double check in the emulator now and then to make sure you are on track.
Scaffolding a new app
Ionic comes with a template system that allows you to quickly create an app scaffold. It will create a project for you and add in the basic dependencies.
Example: Create a basic app with a native side menu on the left.
The scaffolding command (start) results in this folder structure. It is pretty much your standard web application project with cordova plugged in and then some extra settings and config for Ionic. Familiar, nice and quite clean.
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Previewing apps on devices
There is “View App” app which can be downloaded and installed in mobile devices. Assuming you have that installed, inviting someone to checkout your app is as easy as ‘ionic share EMAIL’.
First impressions last, and while I still haven’t actually tried to develop a more complex project, which is the real litmus test for any framework, I have reason to believe Ionic could do well. This is based on the observation that Ionic observes separation of concerns quite well and doesn’t try to perform a lot of magic for you. It simply stiches together well-known, tried and tested frameworks like Cordova, Angular and Sass and adds its own componens to that. It is transparent and they seem to have made it work.
Now I just need to find a suitable project.