Menu
PhoneGap fills the smartphone development gap

PhoneGap fills the smartphone development gap

Mobile apps are all the rage these days, but to get one built for your organization can be a daunting financial prospect. Should you decide to go to a bespoke shop to have your dream iOS or Android app coded you would be looking at a seriously large price tag.

But if you're looking for Android and maybe iOS, Android, BlackBerry, Windows Phone, Palm WebOS, Bada (Samsung's smartphone OS), Tizen and Symbian as well, you could be looking at a biblical price tag.

What if you could use your in-house Web guys with their HTML and CSS and JavaScript skills and, with a lot less hassle (and expense), build your own apps? Sounds like a dream, doesn't it?

APP WARS: Windows 8 Metro vs. the iPad

Well, a dream it is not ... such an ambitious plan could be realized and, indeed, has been realized by the likes of the BBC, Nestle Mexico and NASA Science using an amazing free, open source development platform called PhoneGap.

It is claimed that PhoneGap (a.k.a. "Apache Cordova" ... just to make things confusing), which was contributed to the Apache Software Foundation, has been downloaded over 1 million times and is being used by over 400,000 developers.

According to the PhoneGap Website, "Nitobi was the original creator and is one of the primary contributors to the PhoneGap framework. In October 2011, Adobe acquired Nitobi, enabling the team to focus solely on the PhoneGap project and continue its work on efficient development across mobile platforms. ... There is also vast global community that contributes to the project, including many from IBM, RIM, Microsoft and more."

The scope of involvement by so many big players is fascinating and raises hope that a true cross-operating system development platform for smartphones that relies on well-understood programming paradigms could become a reality. Just imagine if the gap between identifying a smartphone-based business need and rolling out a robust, fully featured, multi-platform app was a matter of weeks or perhaps even days rather than months!

So, what does PhoneGap do? It provides access to smartphone APIs for everything from accelerometer to camera, compass, contacts, file, geolocation, media (audio and video), network, notifications (alert, sound, vibration) and storage, all via JavaScript interacting with HTML and CSS. It's beautiful! (See PhoneGap's chart for which APIs are supported on which OSes.)

Of course, even though PhoneGap is out of beta, it's not all wine and roses. If you want to check out PhoneGap be prepared for poor documentation, some conflicting instructions and moderately serious debugging.

For a general overview that is rather clearer than the PhoneGap documentation see "Explanation of PhoneGap/Cordova for the Layman," and for installation of the latest version check out "PhoneGap 2.1.0 in Mac OS X Mountain Lion 10.8: from Download to iOS App Store," both by Steve Husting. Following Steve's instructions I had a "Hello World" app up and running on the iPad simulator within about 15 minutes!

PhoneGap, while not a complete walk in the park, is the one of the most fully featured, most flexible and most well-developed cross-smartphone development solutions I've come across and, when it comes to capitalizing the basic Web skills of HTML, JavaScript and CSS, it stands on its own! PhoneGap gets a Gearhead rating of 4.5 out of 5!

Gibbs is cross about platforms in Ventura, Calif. Develop your thoughts at gearhead@gibbs.com and follow him on Twitter and App.net (@quistuipater) and on Facebook (quistuipater).

Read more about anti-malware in Network World's Anti-malware section.

Follow Us

Join the ARN newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Windows Phone appsapplication developmentTizencross-OS developmentNASAPhoneGapcross-OS development platformPalmBBCwebOSiOS appssoftwareBlackBerry appsmobile app developmentmobile appsGapNestleBadasymbianapplicationsApache CordovaprogrammingNetworkingwirelessoperating systemsopen source app developmentandroid appsApp Development

Upcoming

Slideshows

IN PICTURES: VMworld 2015 Asia-Pacific and Japan party (+ 32 photos)

IN PICTURES: VMworld 2015 Asia-Pacific and Japan party (+ 32 photos)

VMware recently held an Asia-Pacific and Japan party for its partners in San Francisco following two days of keynotes and sessions. Whilst mingling and enjoying drinks and finger food, the partners were joined by VMware management who also took the opportunity to let their hair down to have some fun.

IN PICTURES: VMworld 2015 Asia-Pacific and Japan party (+ 32 photos)
IN PICTURES: VMworld 2015 sponsor and partner showcase (+41 photos)

IN PICTURES: VMworld 2015 sponsor and partner showcase (+41 photos)

VMware's sponsors and partners used the opportunity at VMworld 2015 to showcase some of their technologies. At an exhibition hall, these vendors educated those that popped by their stands on these solutions and addressed some of the issues surrounding mobility, datacentres, and the Cloud. SOme of the big names there included f5, Palo Alto Networks, HP, Intel, Samsung, and Symantec.

IN PICTURES: VMworld 2015 sponsor and partner showcase (+41 photos)

iasset.com is a channel management ecosystem that automates all major aspects of the entire sales, marketing and service process, including data tracking, integrated learning, knowledge management and product lifecycle management.

Show Comments