The business benefits of using Lightning for your TV-apps

In the past few months, I’ve written several articles about the technical details of using Lightning. As you can tell, Lightning clearly has become my choice of framework for building TV applications. Let us take a look at some of the business benefits of using the TV app development framework.

If you’re looking for an introduction to what Lightning is, please take a look at my other blogs on Lightning!

The benefits (quickly explained)

I’m going to start with something different, I’m going to start by spilling the beans. The reason for that is actually relatively simple. Lightning brings a lot of things to the table. And all of those contribute to basically two major benefits: saving time and thus saving money. Now that I’ve caught your attention, let’s look at why we get those benefits from using Lightning!

Cross-platform out of the box

For those of you following my blogs, this first point will not be a secret. While yes, Lightning is predominantly an RDK-targeted application framework, it can be used on a lot of other devices. In my own tests, I’ve successfully been able to run the application on televisions and streaming sticks from Samsung, LG, Sony, Amazon, and others. This all with minimal effort due to the usage of WebGL on the side of Lightning, rather than relying on typical HTML5 and CSS functionality (which often bring cross-platform issues). So if you’re already building an app for RDK with Lightning, it would be a missed opportunity not to use the same codebase for other platforms too.

Optimized for performance

Another massive benefit of using Lightning is its performance. Lightning is developed to work on even some of the lowest-powered set-top boxes. Because of that, your application performance will be great even on that set-top box you would normally dread working with. If any, you’ll be able to achieve a higher level of performance with some cool animations, than you would with any DOM-based framework like React or Vue.

Just for TV-apps

React, Vue, Angular, Svelte, and any other popular Javascript framework all have something in common. They are not specifically built to work on TV-type devices; rather they are for building regular websites. Now, it’s certainly possible to use them on TV. But not out of the box. You’ll have to find a library, or build your own, for focus management — which can be an incredibly difficult thing to manage properly. And that goes for other specific features of TV-apps, like remote-key input, visual elements like carousels and lists; you name it. All of that is available by default in Lightning, which will save you a lot of time and headaches that you would get by developing this yourself (with support for many platforms in mind).

It’s open source

Something that Lightning and the frameworks mentioned above do have in common, is the fact that it’s open source. This means you’ll be able to both contribute, as well as take all the contributions from others, inside your application(s). Since the tv-app development market is relatively small, you’ll actually get the benefit of open source even more. Since all code changes are specific to our market, you’re automatically almost always going to directly have a use case for code written by others. It’s something you can definitely not say about the likes of React or Vue, where there is so much code made available by others, that it’s hard to see if it’s providing value to you or not.

Conclusion

Lightning is honestly a game-changer in the world of TV-apps. The hard work has already been done for you! With its cross-platform support out of the box, optimized to the best possible performance, you’re guaranteed to be able to offer the best user experience to your users. You’re going to save even more time and money since things like focus management are also already available. Let alone the fact that you’re able to use the framework totally for free, and enjoy the hard work that others will continue to put into improving and expanding it. All of this makes Lightning a great choice for your TV-apps, and it would be a shame to miss out.

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