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When To And When Not To Use Phonegap for Mobile App Development?

We have put some serious critique on using Titanium for cross platform app development considering both the opinion of the community (which is not very shiny) and the opinion of our own Titanium development team, which has proven rather well. Usually whenever Titanium is discarded as preferred cross platform development technology, almost every solution architect thinks of Phonegap. Is this wise? Is Phonegap good enough to close the gaps left by Titanium? Let’s check…

What is Cordova/Phonegap?

Cordova is an open-source mobile app development framework which allows you to use common web technologies such as HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript for cross-platform development, without the need to master their dedicated programming languages.

The applications execute within wrappers targeted to each platform, and rely on standards-compliant API bindings to access each device’s sensors, data, and network status. Phonegap is great if you intend to develop a mobile web page and want to embed it in an app with a few more extra features and deploy it in the app store.

Cordova/Phonegap is used mostly:

  • if a mobile developer wants to extend an application across more than one platform, without having to re-implement it with each platform’s language and tool set.
  • if a web developer wants to deploy a web app that’s packaged for distribution in various app store portals.
  • if a mobile developer is interested in mixing native application components with a WebView (browser window) that can access device-level APIs, or if need is to develop a plugin interface between native and WebView components.

What makes projects powered by Phonegap so unique?

Two basic workflows are supported for creating mobile applications using Cordova namely the Web Project Dev workflow used mostly when Cordova applications are to run on as many mobile operating systems as possible with little platform-specific development work  and the Native Platform Dev workflow which is used mostly when intent is on building an application for a single platform and interest is on changing the lower-level platform details.

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Cordova applications are ordinarily implemented as a browser-based WebView within the native mobile platform but one can create their own WebView components that make full use of Cordova APIs, for supporting platforms. These can be deployed along with native components in a hybrid application.

What’s with Cordova and PhoneGap being used interchangeably?

off-shore developersPhonegap was basically developed  by Nitobi as an open source application platform for creating natively-installed mobile applications using HTML and JavaScript. Nitobi donated the PhoneGap code base to the Apache Software Foundation (ASF) for further refinement and also because more organizations would try contributing since more organizations are comfortable with the Apache organization and its licensing policies.

This open source project incubating at Apache was renamed as Apache Callback, but later it was again renamed as Cordova.

Phonegap’s merits  over Appcelerator

  • More liberal license
  • Support for more mobile platforms
  • With browsers and devices becoming so much more efficient at running Javascript this method of creating apps is likely to grow in popularity.

Phonegap was created so that web developers could add/utilize all their existing skills and code from creating mobile web apps and add in functionality utilizing native features on the device.  You can also access our detailed comparison between PhoneGap and Titanium for building native mobile apps.

What do  you think?  

Was the advent and the buzz created around Titanium just temporary before its inherent disadvantages got unveiled?

Do you think these insights are now profound and fail to showcase the true strength of Titanium once you master this technology and pass over few smaller peculiarities?

Spill your thoughts in the comment section below.



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