There are many reasons why building an HTML5 web application makes sense for a lot of businesses. Whether is budget constrains, skill set, or a deep understanding of the different technologies available, everyone will face a crossroad and will have to choose a path: the HTML5 way, or the native way. While some people stayed paralyzed at the intersection, back in 2011 37signals faced this point and decided to build Basecamp –their most popular product– in HTML5.
Here is what Jason Fried explained at the time:
Back in July we put up a job ad for an iOS developer. We had decided to dive into native apps for the iPhone. We contracted out the back-end development of our iPhone app for Highrise. The project went well, but we felt like we had to have someone in-house to continue the development of the Highrise app and future apps we wanted to build.
And then Android really began to make a run. Android market share increased and more and more customers were asking for Android apps for our web apps. So we stopped and thought about it for a bit. Do we want to have to hire an iOS developer and an Android developer? That’s a lot of specialization, and we’re usually anti-specialization when it comes to development.
Eventually we came to the conclusion that we should stick with what we’re good at: web apps. We know the technologies well, we have a great development environment and workflow, we can control the release cycle, and everyone at 37signals can do the work. It’s what we already do, just on a smaller screen. We all loved our smaller screens so we were eager to dive in. Plus, since WebKit-based browsers were making their way to the webOS and Blackberry platforms too, our single web-app would eventually run on just about every popular smartphone platform.
Comfortable and confident in our decision, we set out to build the best possible mobile web app for our Basecamp Classic customers.