What is cross-platform development?
Cross-platform development involves developing software products or services for multiple platforms or software environments. Engineers and developers use different methods to account for different operating systems or environments for an application or product.
The idea of cross-platform development is that a software application or product should work well in more than one specific digital living space. This ability is typically pursued to sell software for more than one proprietary operating system so that it can be used on both Microsoft and Apple platforms. With the development of mobile devices and other types of platforms, and the proliferation of open source technologies such as Linux, other types of cross-platform development have emerged.
Basic cross-platform development strategies include compiling different versions of the same program for different operating systems, or in other cases using subtree files to apply or customize the product to different operating systems. Another important approach is to make the program abstract at certain levels to accommodate different software environments. Software like this can be described as 'platform independent' as it does not evaluate or support any platform versus any other platform. Developers can also use application programming interfaces (APIs) to customize particular software for a particular platform.
In general, cross-platform development can make a program less efficient. For example, it may require redundant processes or file storage folders for the various systems it is intended to support. It may also be necessary for a program to be 'obsolete' in order to enable less sophisticated software environments. In many cases, however, software manufacturers have found that the limits of cross-platform development are important in order to offer an application or product to a larger group of users.