Discovering discussion topics about development of cross-platform mobile applications using a cross-compiler development framework

by   Matias Martinez, et al.

A cross-platform mobile application is an application that runs on multiple mobile platforms (Android or iOS platforms). One strategy for developing this kind of mobile applications involves to develop, using platform-related toolkits, a native application for each chosen platform. Several frameworks have been proposed to simplify the development of cross-platform mobile applications and, therefore, to reduce development and maintenance costs. Between them, the cross-compiler mobile development frameworks transform the application's code written in intermediate (aka non-native) language to native code for each platform. However, to our best knowledge, there is no much research about the advantages and disadvantages of the use of cross-compiler frameworks during the development and maintenance phases of mobile applications. This paper aims at contributing with one of the first bricks in that research direction. We study what mobile developers that use cross-compiler frameworks ask about when they develop and maintain cross-platform mobile applications. In particular, we focus on one framework: Xamarin from Microsoft. For that, we first created two datasets of questions and answers (QA) related to the development of mobile applications using Xamarin by mining two QA sites: Xamarin Forum and Stack Overflow. We analyzed and compared the number of questions, views and accepted. Then, we applied LDA on Xamarin-related questions to discover the main topics asked by developers that use Xamarin. Finally, we compared the discovered topics with those topics about mobile development. Our findings show that Xamarin Forum has a larger number of questions than Stack Overflow, however, the latter has more answers per question. Moreover, both sites share most of the main topics, which mainly discuss about user interface (UI), formatting, design and navigation.


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