Desktop Applications Development

By | March 18, 2020

Developex has 20+ years of experience in Desktop software development for projects of different sizes and complexity.

Our specialists can start work on your idea quickly and help with implementing custom software products based on your requirements, and users needs to the highest quality market standards.

Nowadays we are seeing more and more apps being created for mobile platforms or web/cloud. This does not mean that desktop application development is dead by any means. There are many instances where standalone software applications for Windows, Mac or Unix are still the preferred choice

Some important areas we don’t usually think about are:

  • In industries where direct connectivity from PC to electronic devices is required in order to perform configuration, tuning or monitoring.
  • PC Video Gamers that often use software to configure gaming peripherals.
  • Any users that require the high speed and processing power of PC like graphic designers, architects and engineers, video/audio editors will also prefer faster, standalone software than a browser based tool.
  • Same goes for a large base of business users that often work not connected to the internet, have strict security requirements or require tight integration to other desktop applications or Operating System functions*.

* Operating system drivers are not considered apps and will be covered in a separate section.

If you are planning to build software for these or other users requiring a desktop application, we will provide you with a list of tools and methods that are popular now on the market and frequently used by our experienced team. Developex has worked for more than 20 years as a custom software development company and has completed hundreds of diverse desktop application projects. You can benefit from our experience by starting with the most appropriate tools and methods for your unique requirements.


Definition - What is desktop application development

Native vs Cross Platform application development

Tools for desktop application development for Windows

Tools for desktop development for Mac

Tools for desktop development for Linux/Unix

Tools for Cross Platform Desktop Application Development

Applications development with QT and C++

Examples of desktop applications

Industries where desktop apps are often used

More Articles on desktop development from our blog

Our Methodology for Project Management

Definition - What is desktop application development?

Desktop software apps are created to run on desktop computers (PCs) and laptops. Windows applications can be deployed as executable or as Windows Store apps. MacOS applications are usually deployed through the Apple Store and Linux apps are deployed as executables.

There are many frameworks and languages used to create desktop applications. They can be categorized by the platform they support or as cross platform technologies along with the programming languages and libraries used.

A native application is a software program that is developed for use on a particular platform (macOS - Objective C or Windows -.Net, C#) or device. Native apps are written in a code, preliminarily used for the target device and its OS.

Cross-Platform application is an application that can be run with little or no modification on Windows, Macintosh, and Linux/Unix platforms without compromising functionality, usability, or quality.

Developex can assist you with development of Desktop software for Windows, macOS and Linux.

Native apps framework and tools Cross-Platform app development frameworks
Windows: .NET (WPF or Winforms), C# or VB.NET, UWP C++ and also C++ with Qt Framework
MacOS : ObjectiveC Java
Linux: C++ Electron
Unity framework (.NET)
Python (wxPython, pyQT, pyGTK and others)

Native vs Cross Platform application development

Advantages of native applications:

  • Broad functionality due to using the capabilities of the underlying device.
  • Faster and more responsive software performance.
  • UI that better matches with user experiences of the OS.
  • Use of native frameworks which usually are most updated to OS functions and guidelines.

Disadvantages of native applications:

  • Multiple code bases because each device has its own version of the app.
  • Added cost fo additional developers to build and manage a code base for each platform.
  • Time spent on multiple builds for separate platforms in each feature update.
  • Separate full regression testing cycle for each platform.

Why Сross-Platform Development is Sometimes Better than Native:

  • Similar Logic and User Interface   If the same software is going to work on several different platforms and such software should have the same UI then a multi-platform type of development definitely should be at least considered.
  • Pressed for time   The development time is reduced by almost half. Also, when you work with cross-platform development tools, changes affect only one piece of code, not two or more different native projects, so you will have a reduced amount of time spent on bugs fixes. The end result is that the delivery of new versions is faster and easier.
  • More efficient   Developing and updating a cross-platform project is fast and quality can be maintained with a relatively small team.
  • More efficient   Cross-platform development has one vulnerability. It is the framework itself that is used for development. If such a framework is bad a project will be bad. Thus, it is critically important to choose a really sustainable and time-proven solution.

Tools for desktop application development for Windows

If you require only Windows platform support .NET (WPF or Winforms) is often the technology choice for this matter. C# is the most popular programming language for this framework.

UWP is a comparatively new technology for Windows. The purpose of Universal Windows Platform (UWP) is to help develop universal apps that run on Windows 10, Windows 10 Mobile, Xbox One and HoloLens without the need to be re-written for each platform.

Other technologies for cross-platform software development that are also supported on Windows are described below.

Tools for desktop development for Mac

ObjectiveC and also Cocoa are the most popular programming language and framework for MacOS. Technologies for cross-platform software development that are also supported on Windows are described below.

Tools for desktop development for Linux/Unix

C++ is the most popular programming language for native application development for Linux. Technologies for cross-platform software development that are also supported on Windows are described below.

Tools for Cross Platform Desktop Application Development

C++ and QT Framework is an extremely popular language and framework for cross-platform application development.

Electron is a new framework that is gaining popularity because it allows us to use Javascript and React to build desktop applications.

Java is a language that has most developers and many platforms covered. Although it is losing popularity for desktop applications with a User Interface requirement.

Unity (.NET) is very popular for game-like interfaces and games.

Python is still popular, but used mostly for applications where user interface requirements are not so strict.

Application development with QT and C++

Developex teams often prefer to use the Qt framework for these main reasons:

  • Large number of libraries with intuitive APIs for threading, networking, animations and more.
  • Excellent documentation, developer support and community.
  • Qt proven over time and has been vetted by major players.
  • It is dual-licensed: both free and commercial.
  • Development is extremely fast.
  • Multiple OS support - Windows, macOS, Linux.
  • Most of the issues will be common for all OSs
  • Code reuse - for a feature developed for a macOS application, the same feature will be also developed for the version Windows of the application at the same time, eliminating the need to write the same code twice.
  • A wide variety of customization capabilities.
  • Qt code development takes less time, through one code deployed across all screens and platforms.
  • Cost-effective development.
  • Code support is much more transparent and easy to implement.
  • It is much easier to release apps for different OS at the same time, without delay in between version announcements.

Frameworks and Libraries:

Cross-Platform application development: Qt 4 and Qt 5 (QML, QtQuick), Boost, wxWidgets Automated application testing: GTest, Boost.Test, Catch

IDEs and development software: Qt Creator, Visual Studio, XCode, CMake

Examples of desktop applications

Industries where desktop apps are often needed

  • Consumer, Industrial and other Electronics
  • Enterprise software with special security, connectivity or integration requirements
  • Computer games and tools for gamers
  • Media and Entertainment where video/audio rendering and processing, or heavy design is used.
  • Engineering, Design and Architecture
  • Healthcare
  • Virtual and Augmented Reality design

Our Methodology for Project Management

We base our work on the Agile paradigm (Scrum/Kanban) and on effective communication by our Project and Delivery Managers with Product Owner from Client’s side.

We believe that fast reaction in a constantly changing environment and having a strategic “map” of possible impacts in place and kept up-to-date helps to prevent risk and deliver the best overall results.

Developex team can work with you to cover the full software development cycle, starting from software product design and planning, requirements analysis, UI/UX, firmware and software development, up to testing and 24/7 support upon project completion.

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