7. Front-end & Back-end Coding & Integration phases
This is the most complex phase—expect many iterations, with a constant feedback loop between your designer and your developer along the way. At this phase, both the front-end and back-end architecture of your app are built as a coordinated effort. While your app’s functionality is created, its system architecture is getting built. The front-end interface and the back-end server support software are dependent on one another, and the process usually involves a lot of back and forth.
On the front end, you’ll be making decisions about how your app’s functions come to life with code—its computing logic. A few technologies you should know when you discuss options with your mobile app developer include:
Xcode. In the development phase, your iOS developer will use Xcode—Apple’s integrated development environment (IDE)—to create your native iOS app, importing any graphics created by the designer. This tool provides a ton of features to create a native iOS app, like designing the UI, editing source code, debugging, and even exporting the app to the App Store. The Interface Builder is an alternative to hand coding the front end, allowing developers to put the app’s code together visually.
iOS programming languages
Objective-C. : Cocoa Touch is built on the Objective-C programming language—a superset of the C programming language with an added object-oriented programming layer. iOS apps are networks of objects, objects are Objective-C classes, and classes can be pulled from the Cocoa framework, or written from scratch.
Swift. : Apple’s newest programming language Swift was launched in 2014 and is quickly replacing Objective-C. It’s easier to learn, simpler than Objective-C, and Apple claims it runs 2.6 times faster. Objective-C’s syntax, while verbose for a programmer, was a good fit for early iPhone hardware—less RAM and slower processes. Swift keeps up with modern hardware and is also faster on the coding end, shorter, more secure, and easier to maintain. Read more in our Swift vs Objective-C article.
Frameworks. iOS apps are built with the Cocoa Touch framework, a version of the Cocoa framework that’s focused on touch-based interfaces. The Foundation framework provides an app with basic services, written in Objective-C. Hybrid apps are built with front-end frameworks like Bootstrap, jQuery mobile, and AngularJS on third-party platforms like Xamarin, PhoneGap, or Appcelerator—options that let you code cross-platform apps with languages other than Objective-C.
At the same time, any back-end engineering—any server-side components your app needs to run, like a database, APIs, middleware, etc.—are coded and integrated in this phase, linking them to the front end.