Using the WooCommerce API in mobile development

WordPress is (in my opinion) the best content management system to be used as a backend for developing mobile apps. Some app projects utilize Adobe’s PhoneGap, which is a technology that combines HTML, CSS, and JavaScript in a web browser view to connect a phone to the WordPress install. While this does the job, PhoneGap does not deliver a true native app. At Zeek, we emphasize native and hybrid code that interfaces with WordPress through various APIs. This enables us to deliver a high quality product that functions better than its PhoneGap counterparts might. However, we recently ran into problems creating an iOS app with eCommerce.

We selected WooCommerce as our eCommerce platform, as it has become the gold standard for WordPress storefronts. WooCommerce has a JSON API, but as we have discovered, it appears that it was designed primarily for administrative purposes. It has very little usable functionality to offer a customer-facing mobile app. I was brought in to help implement parts of the API that weren’t in the WordPress or WooCommerce JSON APIs.

WARNING: This post is about to get real. And by “real,” I mean “technical.”

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Applications: Native, Web or Hybrid?

What is best option for your mobile app development: Native, Web or HybridIf you are like many business owners, all you want is an app that works. Discussing native, web or hybrid platforms for your applications may be a conversation that causes your stomach to churn. Yet, it doesn’t have to be that complicated.

In general, a native app is one that is built for a specific platform, such as an iPhone iOS system or an Android phone. A native app functions uses functions already inherent in the device (pinching or tapping), allows for faster translation of graphics and relies on the security and features already used on the mobile device. This can mean developing two separate amazing apps rather than one that shows decently across the board to accomplish the same goal.

Web applications uses HTML5, JavaScript and CSS to create a universal app that will perform across platform. Functionality can be limited in terms of geolocation, security and other device-dependent options, but this is still an option for many companies that want a basic app.

Hybrid apps combine both native and web concepts, and can be an excellent choice when developed by someone with the right experience.

Deciding Between Native, Web or Hybrid Applications – The Choice Is All About Functionality

The key when using native and hybrid apps is an awareness that technology changes at an extremely rapid pace. Native features are tied to platforms and their associated APIs so must be maintained and updated more frequently. When a new feature rolls out, the user must update the app rather than having it change automatically.

HTML5  development allows for easier maintenance but it makes your user have to try something new, rather than relying on familiar mobile interfaces, an issue particularly in cases where secure sign-on is important. It can also pose a problem when integrating mapping features or calendars, functions that are easily integrated in native development.

At Zeek we build adapt apps to our clients’ needs. When versatility is a key component or security is an essential concern, we use native apps. Other scenarios may have us suggesting a hybrid. Both options require maintenance as platforms develop and needs change, and we understand that and plan for it.

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