This research topic will be looking at Sencha Touch (ST) and jQuery Mobile (jQM). The goal is to understand how the two stack up. In the end hopefully it will be clear which is a more powerful framework based on tangibles and some intangibles.
Admittedly, I have a bias in having experience with Sencha frameworks, specifically ExtJS 3 and 4. Their Touch framework is new to me. I have only dabbled in jQuery in the past and the extent by which I used it was rather limited. However, in terms of some of the enterprise level features, ExtJS has been a more powerful framework.
Sencha Touch Website - v2.0 Beta 1
jQuery Mobile Website - v1.0.1
Device support is important to some. For my purposes, I am mostly concerned with targeting the iPhone and Android-based phones. This will simplify the rest of the research, however it's important to note the device support today by each framework.
- jQM, lists support for iOS, Andriod, BlackBerry, bada, Windows Phone, palm webOS, symbian, MeeGo. See the full report on Browser Support.
- ST v1.1.1 supports, iOS, Android and BlackBerry. While v2.0 is in beta, the support for Android versions 3.x is labelled as "fundamentally broken, and do not plan to officially support it in Touch 2." [Raising The Bar]. Issues with transitions in the ICS browser have been raised with Android development and appear to have been resolved.
|ST v2.0 Beta 1 Kitchen Sink||jQM v1.0.1 Pages & dialogs screen|
These screenshots give a general feel for the default look and feel of the both frameworks. ST tries to mimic the look of the iOS styling whereas jQM uses a theme similar, but varies drastically from the iOS look. These themes apply the same on an Android based device (tested in an Android Emulator).
ST on the other hand loads one file with ExtJS framework requirements in addition to the Touch framework. The total payload 28658 bytes, or 28.6 KB. A 28.3 KB larger smaller download. This is a minimal factor as long as caches are utilized properly and occurs on a occasional basis per user. In slow network situations this could leave a user less frustrated.
Anyone who has done a any amount of studying iOS application development will now that it follows the MVC pattern very religiously. I won't discuss the details of MVC here but you can read up more on the pattern on Wikipedia. One of the feature additions in ExtJS 4 was full scale MVC support. The model was formalized and additional classes were built to support the concept of view and controller. After doing some work with iOS, I found that I actually appreciated that concept very much.
With that, I would personally look to building new web-based applications following that pattern. ST is based on ExtJS 4 and brings the MVC pattern to the table. A cursory search on the google machine, I could not find a concise document on using jQ or jQM to implement MVC based applications. I think this is knock on the framework and may for some be a deal breaker.
I was also more impressed with the transitions by ST. I have an iPhone 3GS running iOS 5.0.1. Anyone running this combination will feel the pain I do on occasion with regards to performance (small price to pay for some of the adds). The transitions were seamless and very smooth. With jQM, I found that transitions were not as good. Here is a set of screenshots of what I am referring to.
With these very basic criteria, ST seems to be a better fit for greenfield web application development. Developer experience with jQuery or ExtJS may be another deciding factor. As stated earlier, I have more experience with ExtJS. I feel that it would be a smaller learning curve to learn the ST framework, understand the documentation styles, and implement the application and features necessary to build an application.