Telerik, the company behind Kendo UI, iterates its frameworks very quickly – as often as three major releases a year. In addition to Kendo UI Web and Kendo UI Datawiz, the Kendo family is surely one of the best data visualization bundles available.
The Model – View – ViewModel (MVVM) is originally meant for developing user interfaces and Kendo UI Mobile makes a great use of it. The ViewModel’s lightness makes it incredibly fast to manage application state. Retrieving data is not only simple on the client end, also made effective on the back end, where the Kendo UI team provides abstraction layers for several popular programming languages.
The framework is based on jQuery, subsequently inheriting its functionality. DOM is used heavily with Kendo, especially for views and data binding.
UI and Theming
UI is one of the strong points of Kendo UI as it offers native look and feel in iOS, Android, BlackBerry, and Windows Phone 8 environments. The supplied themes feature native-looking view transitions and optimizations for each respective platform. A flat skin interface is also bundled for a more independent layout. Although most professional developers will opt for hand written CSS modifications, Kendo UI Mobile ThemeBuilder offers quick and easy skinning based on the existing themes.
Kendo UI Mobile comes with 14 widgets. None of the widgets will try to abstract the existing HTML5 elements, with Button being the only exception for the purposes of extensive customization options. ListView, one of the most popular widgets in all frameworks, is rich with configuration options, including endless (infinite) scrolling, pull to refresh, hierarchical data binding, editing, filtering and more. Usually resource intensive, Scheduler (calendar lookalike) and Grid widgets perform mostly well even on mid-level Android devices.
Responsive Design (RWD)
Since November 2013, Kendo UI widgets support Responsive Design principles, making them device agnostic. This being a HTML-centric framework ensures RWD is a welcome approach for the entire application.
Even though Kendo UI Mobile widgets are built on standards of RWD, they are optimized for cross-platform mobile devices. Desktop application makers will have to resort to another option like Kendo UI Web. This architectural decision is parallel to Sencha Touch’s.
Third party plugins
Telerik offers a repository for third party extensions through Kendo UI Labs. Currently available lab projects mostly offer universal connectors to third party software and libraries.
Existing widgets are extended in a jQuery-like fashion. Furthermore, Kendo UI Mobile is designed to work with RequireJS, which allows for dependencies management or selective framework loading.
While official building tools are not provided, the task is easily achieved with external utilities such as Grunt, especially if you use it with the RequireJS plugin.
Kendo UI apps will require external tools for packaging purposes.
Kendo UI Mobile does not support device APIs. Nonetheless, integration with Phonegap/Cordova is possible easily enough.
Kendo’s documentation system revolves around examples. Most of the configuration options, methods, and events are accompanied with an easy to read code example, although not a functional demo. Many beginner and intermediate level questions are covered in a plethora of tutorials, including server-side approaches for ASP.NET and PHP.
Kendo UI Mobile is available under a commercial license, starting at $199.
Paid support subscribers will get help at the official forums for premium members. Community discussion is maintained through StackOverflow. While the kendo-ui tag shows some 4600+ questions, this number includes a good deal of its desktop related brother’s topics. Searching for Kendo UI Mobile will yield just 350 results. Telerik is fairly active on events world wide, also hosting their own developer conference. Not so many meetups are dedicated to Kendo UI or Kendo UI Mobile, though.
What would they say?
Telerik drawing roots from ASP.NET is visible all over the place, which is particularly convenient for developers used to Microsoft’s server side platform. Those with some jQuery experience will find Kendo UI Mobile very easy to learn. The amount of HTML used to construct views suggests Kendo to be a good platform for the apps that rely on backend prepared views. This is a UI framework designed for UI consistency and leaving other advanced aspects of application architecture to other libraries such as Backbone.
Implementing a custom design is reasonable straightforward with Kendo UI Mobile ThemeBuilder. The existing platform-specific styles make native look and feel experience available right outside of the box.