Ionic without enterprise - is this viable?


I’ve received funding to develop a small-ish app over the next few months.
There is already a web-based prototype with some basic functionality.
So Ionic seems ideal for the job: I could refactor and extend the existing code and re-use it across platforms.

It is important to me to base the development on open-source technologies. This is not just a matter of principle, I have seen many commercial solutions being abandoned, with no way to continue support by the community. At a first glance, Ionic seems to be very much focused on being open-source. Premium support and some exclusive enterprise features would be acceptable to me, as long as the key features are open.

However, reading the docs I find that for basically ALL native features there is a premier plugin, which is only available in the enterprise version. This includes very basic functionality, such as fixing a device rotation.

Outside of the ecosystem of premier plugins, there seems to be heavy fragmentation:

  • Some functionality is offered with capacitor/core plugins. As far as I can see, most of this is basically a stripped down version of some corresponding premier plugin. For example, there is a camera API in capacitor/core, but it has no support for videos.

  • There is a huge amount of existing cordova plugins. Although they are supposed to be compatible, the migration guide (from cordova to capacitor) instructs to try and match needed functionality against capacitor core and community plugins.

  • There are a few capacitor community plugins. At this point, I can’t access their quality.

Having a select handful of premier plugins would be no problem to me. For example, you could keep monetization with ads and in-app purchases behind a paywall. This would seem very fair to me: If someone is making money based on Ionic technology, the devs should receive a share.

But the fact that basically all native functionality is a premier feature makes me very uneasy. Ionic is advertised to be as future-proof as the web. Well, what if the open-source camera API is abandoned and the next Android update breaks it? I don’t have the time to fix that.

Would you say that using Ionic for native development is viable without enterprise plugins?
What is the level of quality in community plugins and are there any big gaps in the functionality that they cover?
I’m aware that creating capacitor plugins is supposedly very simple. But this project is a one-man show. I need something that allows me to be as productive as possible. Adding missing plugins myself is not an option.

I would be really grateful for some feedback here.

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I’ve been doing exactly that for almost 5 years now, but I guess it depends on whether you absolutely need particular enterprise-only features. I haven’t encountered any of those situations to date.

Sounds great, thanks for the feedback.

What are you developing with Ionic, what plugins are you using?

Mostly variants on the general theme of “army of minions goes out in the field, collects, produces, receives, shares data with central mothership. separate administrative app (pure Angular, not Ionic) keeps order, oversees process, generates reports. happiness ensues”.

Primarily camera, barcode scanner, and geolocation.

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Did you decide to look into the Enterprise options or did you go it alone?

Oh no, it was never a question of Enterprise or not. The money for that was simply not available.
The question was Ionic vs an alternative.

If this project works out nicely, there’s a chance of various follow-ups. And for them, Enterprise might be an option.

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My experience so far is mixed.

Most notably a proper storage plugin for Ionic/React is missing.
The capacitor storage is NOT able to items above a few mb.
There used to be ionic storage, but it only works with Angular.

Writing your own plugins is possible and relatively easy. But it still requires you to write the same functionality three times (android, ios, web).
I mean, that’s really not a point where I can complain. Native code has to be native :stuck_out_tongue:
But if you actually plan on doing it, the investment into enterprise might quickly pay off (developer time is expensive).

Support from the team is awesome, even without paying for it.
So far this is the main reason why I would consider paying for enterprise if my current project has a follow-up.
Team members are very active on the forum and stackoverflow and super friendly.

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