Friday, March 13th, 2009

What is PhoneGap?

Category: JavaScript, Mobile

Ben and I have been promoting PhoneGap as a great solution for Web developers to create applications with the technology they know and love, without having to jump off of the cliff to other proprietary worlds. PhoneGap is still new, but gets more impressive every day.

The team is getting more interested, and put together a video on What is PhoneGap?.

You can see a budding list of existing applications that use PhoneGap already and note that PhoneGap isn’t just about the iPhone anymore…. Android and RIM are in the house.

Posted by Dion Almaer at 6:27 am

3.9 rating from 23 votes


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PhoneGap is great. If you use it, be sure to try the stuff out on an actual device as soon as you can, because the emulator and the device don’t run at the same speed.

Comment by Nosredna — March 13, 2009

just don’t see the point of all these custom javascript libraries for the iphone. Phonegap has some nice features for accessing phone features from js, but you can do that with traditional development libraries to, js, prototype etc. iphone web 2.0 dev should not deverse from webapplication dev, but it seems to be.

I’m a java developer, I also develop in objective-c. I find that if you want to do anything serious on the backend you want a secure robust platform like java.

I’ve seen a lot of java gwt apps that outperform iui apps in every way.

My own project merges dashcode with a jsf component library called icefaces, it makes comet-d server push available both to the web-app and in a limited way to the native sdk apps. (home page)

Comment by michelle21 — March 13, 2009

PhoneGap is great, and contrary to many people’s opinions (like Nosredna’s comment) is not a custom javascript library. It’s a framework, or wrapper, around web applications, that gives you access to the phone’s native hardware.

I’m developing a few applications in it currently, and find it to be very easy to extend and tweak.

Comment by MikeNachbaur — March 13, 2009

I don’t see how I implied that PhoneGap is a custom library. I did a whole app in PhoneGap, so I’d be surprised if I didn’t know what it was.

I just wanted to point out if you go the PhoneGap way rather than Objective-C, be sure to check your stuff early in the hardware. I didn’t, and I was sorry.

However, since you mentioned custom libraries, check out XUI (which works great with PhoneGap). It’s similar to jQuery, but adds neat stuff like touch support.

There are a huge number of apps that are appropriate, in my opinion, for PhoneGap. But not all.

Comment by Nosredna — March 13, 2009

@michelle21 Its easy to misunderstand what phonegap is. phonegap is broken down into two parts. The first is a native project in each iphone/android/blackberry that all invokes a webview and exposes native functionality of the device to the javascript. The second part of phonegap is a javascript API based on W3C HTML5 to access these core features.

for example: “navigator.accelerometer.watchAcceleration(onSuccess, onFail);” will watch the acceleration regardless of the device the user is using and “navigator.notification.vibrate(0);” will make the device vibrate.

Prototype does not do this. However, you can use prototype, jquery, xui or any other js framework with phonegap if you like. XUI is designed for mobile so thats what we prefer to use. Dashcode is also an excellent way to build applications for phonegap. dashcode + xui + phonegap = win :)

I hope this clears up some confusion for people.

Comment by sintaxi — March 13, 2009

Ok, I see what your doing now. Unfortunately I personally can’t find a use but it probably will be to others.
I’m using comet technology to basically do something similar , but I also have direct push capabilities between uiwebview’s and other devices.

Lot of competing technologies out there.

I will say phonegap seems more complete than some of the other new frameworks.

Comment by michelle21 — March 13, 2009

I have been playing with comet and absolutely love it. I have experimented with it in phonegap as well. I would love to see people use comet more. It is hugely overlooked and underrated.

Comment by sintaxi — March 13, 2009

Phonegap seems to be a real nice platform. It has a lot of features.. Its great that a lot of rich environments are starting to emerge , a lot of choices for developers.
Comet-d as employed by icefaces is a bit customized but works about the same. Its still just a long pooling request .

It just blows my mind that I can keep 4 or more uiweviews open on the screen each open to an independent session, but doing an update in one browser session can update the others. I’m writing a geocaching app that displays your map simultaneously in four different formats, whats more your gps location lat and logitude is updated from the phone and pushed to every other iphone connected to the server. its also possible to show all the phone locations connected to the server. the info can be retirieved by to the remote server via a simple nsurlrequest.

Read more about our concept for this here.

Comment by michelle21 — March 13, 2009

Ref; “for example: “navigator.accelerometer.watchAcceleration(onSuccess, onFail);” will watch the acceleration regardless of the device the user is using and “navigator.notification.vibrate(0);” will make the device vibrate.”
You do realize that adding such features to JavaScript is defined as Embrace, Extend and Extinguish…?
As in these are extensions created by Apple which probably few or none other cell phone vendors ever will be supporting, and that you by using them are getting suckered into their lock-in strategies…?

Comment by ThomasHansen — March 15, 2009

I used phonegap to get my first iPhone application into the store. It was originally a web based game, and now is on the iPhone and runs offline. I use JQuery extensivly in the application. You can checkout the web version here– which is pretty much the same as the iphone version (except uses of touchdown type events)

Comment by andsmi — March 16, 2009

Interesting platform – there still are major issues with mobile development and as this project points out, there is a demand for an ‘easier’ way. I’ll check out Comet, but also take a look at Cascada Mobile Breeze. HTML/JavaScript/CSS creates J2ME and BlackBerry apps, iPhone on the way soon.

Comment by Cascada — March 24, 2009

I’ve just started using phonegap to simplify our mobile app development and it does make many tasks easier, but it is not a silver bullet which will handle all of your mobile development needs.

Comment by petzooey — January 12, 2011

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