Among the best frameworks available in the technology market, Ionic is most preferred to develop hybrid applications. This open-source framework is essentially based on three main elements, i.e. SaaS-based UI framework (this is optimised for the mobile user-interfaces), Angular framework (this works best to rapidly develop scalable applications), Compiler (Cordova or PhoneGap, this one is useful for the native applications with HTML, CSS, & JavaScript). This prominent framework consists of various out-of-the-box and functional CSS components.

Introducing Ionic 4 Framework

It was almost after two years of comprehensive research and toiling that Ionic 4 was introduced and launched at the start of this year (January). Despite it being based on the same lines as Ionic 3, the latest release Ionic 4 comes with more advancements in the form of functionality, build-time, multi-framework compatibility, strong theme capacity, and documentation.

Earlier on, the migration from the Ionic 1 to Ionic 3 was quite difficult, however, now the things are a lot easier with this newly launched Version 4 of Ionic that comes with transition tool making the migration a smooth affair for the Ionic team. With this upgrade to Version 4, the Ionic team aims to make Ionic a robust platform to build mobile progressive web apps which are able to access the native device functionalities. There are some brilliant tools, concepts, and technologies that Ionic 4 offers in the form of Ionic Native 5, stencil, capacitor and PWA ToolKit. All of these elements can be utilised with React, Vue, Angular, etc., by using the upgraded version of Ionic.

With the latest launch, the Ionic platform is now distributed as this bunch of web elements using Shadow DOM APIs & the custom elements which are available in all the modern mobile and web browser. This way, all of the website developers are enabled to access Ionic components in the progressive web applications, mobile applications, and desktop applications, using custom HTML tags of Ionic in their app.

Presently, Ionic intends to use the standard Web APIs instead of the third-party APIs, and hence developers can stay assured in regard of the stability of Ionic’s component APIs which would be staying for years to come instead of falling prey to framework & front-end combination.

Today, Ionic is not just the mobile for Angular but is this brand-new, modern, and web-based design system & app structure for all of the developers, no matter what tools and framework they opt to use.

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Newly Introduced Features of Ionic 4 Framework

Just as mentioned above, the latest offering of Ionic comes with some amazing and path-breaking features, such as Stencil & internal code refactoring. This latest framework can also be used with the other frameworks and not just Angular and it is built so well that there are little efforts developers are required to put in order to retract or rebuild their applications. Ionic 4 introduces few web components as well, in the form of an array of web platform APIs empowering the development of reusable, customised and new encapsulated HTML tags for use in web apps & website pages.

There are also some customised widget components available for the developers which are created on the web component standards and they work across all the modern browsers. Developers can use these custom widget elements and components with any of the framework or the JavaScript library that functions with HTML.

Below are mentioned the newly-introduced features in Ionic 4:

Stencil: This new creation of the Ionic team is a web component compiler that is useful for building standards-compliant with web servers. This also uses additional APIs such as TypeScript, JSX, async, and Virtual DOM, which works best for progressive web apps (PWA).

Capacitor: This code extension layer and cross-platform API is useful for calling native SDKs from the web code, and writing custom native plugins required by the app. This also consists of PWA support enabling developers to write one app and then launch it to the app store.

Web Components: This has been the best move in the arena of Ionic that they moved to the web component for its every single component. Basically, web components are a set of web platforms APIs which enable developers to create brand new, customised & reusable HTML tags that can be used in web pages and web apps. These web components would be forwarding more work to browsers sans having to write too many codes. This certainly is a noteworthy improvement in startup & loading times, and work wonders to create high-performance web applications. The four main elements it is based on are: HTML Template, HTML imports, Shadow DOM, and Custom elements.

Lazy Loading: Now this tends to be a design pattern in the Ionic framework used to differentiate the initialization of components until needed. This enhanced app’s performance while decreases the app’s load time by dividing it in a various bundle and only loading the application when you ask for.

CSS Variables: This is the exclusive feature of Ionic that is going to modernise the whole look of your application making some slight changes in a few variables without the need to use build tools.

Ionicons 4.0: These icons are basically designed for use in iOS, Android, web, & desktop applications. Now even the web font & support for the SVG are available and are distributed as the web components with revamped icon forms and decreased size that displays the newest material design styles & iOS trends.

ion-select Popover: This mainly is a dialogue appearing on top of the current page, and it is used for the overflow actions that do not fit well in the navigation bar.

Color Changes: The Ionic team has changed the earlier default color and it now has a new default color.

ion-Searchbar: This includes a text field which is useful for searching from a huge collection. Here, the Ionic team has added nine bar styles, and out of them all, v4 appears to be the best.

ion-Route: it picks up a component and renders its browser URL to get it matched with the URL property.

ion-Ripple Effect: This is useful for adding the Material design ripple interaction effect and is built so that it is efficient-non-invasive, and is easy-to-use sans the need to add any form of extra DOM to elements. This doesn’t degrade the JavaScript to just easily implement CSS only.

ion-Picker: This displays a row of columns and buttons on top of the app’s content and even at bottommost part of the viewport.

ion-Backdrop: These full-screen components are created with the purpose to overlay the other components. These are placed on top of the other contents, as this way it is able to dismiss another component.

Ionic Native 5: Now this will bring the app development project to the whole framework of agnostic status. Its components work in all the prominent frameworks. As Ionic 5 comes, it would require AngularJS to choose providers or the injectables.

Changelogs in Native 5: This is shipped with three bundles, i.e. one with Angular (5.x+) providers, then ES6 modules, and then with the AngularJS support. ES6 & bundle releases the feature static classes for the plugins. Ionic developers who use Angular choose between using the injectables, or can import & use ES6 plugins statically.

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Learning to Migrate to Ionic 4

In case you are using Ionic’s older version, then there could be few challenges you may come across upgrading to the latest version, i.e. Ionic 4. In order to learn how to transit to Ionic 4 from its older versions, take a look below:

Guide to migrate from Ionic 1 to Ionic 4

Here this transition describes the shift from AngularJS to Angular7+. Now there is a structural difference between the two versions, this is why few of the app codes require being written again. Here the exact work amount depends on the app complexity and its size. However, on a positive note, there has not much changed with Ionic UI components since Ionic 1.

Now to go ahead with the transition, first check time frame. It is suggested to feature-freeze Ionic 1 and has the code in order. What this does is it reduce tech issues, troubleshoots prime bugs, and reorder as you find fit. After that check the features that you like to integrate and the ones to ignore. Then, create a new Ionic 4 app, and begin filling the features. Once, the Ionic team is satisfied with the stability of the app, version 1 can be then closed.

Guide to migrate from Ionic 3 to Ionic 4

Here, the efforts required are a lot lesser as compared to version 1. But this does need to invest more time to finish this migration. To begin with, review Angular’s launch guide, as this way you get the idea regarding changes from the Angular 2+ to Angular 7+. Next, create a new Ionic 4 project, and then copy it over the various portions of Angular code, such as providers, pipes, services, and components. You require to work on a single feature, at a time, from the top to bottom.

Now two parts that got maximum transformations here are navigation and lazy loading. Instead of using Ionic’s NavController, integrate with official Angular router. Now pick up official tooling of each framework and now a more stable and consistent routing experience can be attained.

By transforming navigation, lazy loading structure will also transform in the Ionic 4. This can be attained with the use of LoadChildern strategy of Angular router. Hence, this way, it is easy to migrate to latest Ionic 4 from the older versions.

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Why should you create your application with the Ionic framework?

In case you are on the fence regarding which one to pick, whether a cross-platform app or a native app, then here we have mentioned the reason why you must seriously contemplate Ionic as the framework of choice.

It is built on the AngularJS: AngularJS is what comes on everyone’s mind whenever we think of a prominent framework for the mobile and web applications. Using AngularJS framework, the developers are able to create high-performing applications based on the Ionic platform. Here in the app development with Ionic, it uses AngularJS to create app structure and other features. At the same time, it uses syntax extending of HTML to include elements of the app & data binding.

Appealing UI Components: Ionic framework offers pre-defined styling for its different components, this way all of the elements you choose to use will appear like the native elements. By this, we mean that they will appear like native across several of the platforms, hence on Android, the component gets Material Design Touch, and while on the iOS it gets the current iOS look.

Awesome support & community: The best way to evaluate the performance of a framework is by seeing how active the community is. The support that the Ionic community offers is just exceptional. Like, it offers an Ionic Slack channel, number of books and places like ‘Ionic Academy’ that offers special support adjusted as per your requirements. Also, it allows to track what your Ionic team is working on, what bugs & issues are open, and you can also start your own pull request in order to fix the stuff on Github repository.

Open-Source: As Ionic is an open-source app development framework, thus there is no requirement to pay for any kind of license to create enterprise applications (apart from iOS A& Android stores).

Single codebase: Yes, Ionic uses single codebase, this way it enables to create responsive and intuitive mobile applications for all kinds of portable devices. Despite the features, an app is integrated with, when you build it on Ionic, it is going to work smoothly on all the mobile devices.

If you are just beginning with the Ionic app development process, then do give a thought to using the Ionic app templates. These basically are a combination of great design & code and they are able to save a lot of your time spent on designing & development.

Final Note: With its latest features, Ionic has become an alluring and interesting framework for the developers. Right now, it is available in the Beta version and in the coming times, we are expecting more features and enhancements.

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