PhoneGap Build lets web developers create native mobile apps for iOS and Android without learning Objective C or Java, while still being able to access native hardware features like vibration, accelerometer, camera, and so forth. This is great if you are a web developer and need to develop a native mobile app on multiple platforms (iOS, Android, etc.)
PhoneGap Build Makes it Easier
PhoneGap Build is Adobe’s attempt to take care of more of the development process for you (especially the convoluted iOS compilation process). In fact, using PhoneGap Build, you can develop iOS apps using a Windows PC! (Apple’s iOS development tools only run on Mac). Adobe accomplishes this by moving the iOS-specific parts of the PhoneGap development process to their servers on the web, so you only need to upload files there and push a button. To load your app onto your mobile device, you scan a QR code from your phone and it sends you to a link where the files are waiting for you. I went through most of the process and it was relatively painless! The only reason I didn’t go all the way was that I had an iPhone and I didn’t have an Apple developer license ($99), which is required for iOS development.
Android development (and Blackberry, for those who care), works the same way, except that you don’t need a license. If I had an Android phone, I would have been able to run the demo on my phone that day.
I had attended a native iOS development workshop once before, and the whole process turned me off. If I had to develop an iOS app, I’d definitely use PhoneGap Build instead. I’d recommend it to any web developer who wants or needs to develop a native mobile app. This is the easiest way that I’ve found.
PhoneGap Build is free for one app and $10/month for 25 apps. You can find out more about PhoneGap Build here: http://build.phonegap.com/
PhoneGap vs. PhoneGap Build
jQuery Mobile vs. Sencha Touch
I have previously used jQTouch for this, which was easy to use, but doesn’t seem to have much momentum behind it now. For my next project, I’ll definitely use jQuery Mobile. It seems very easy to use for anyone familiar with HTML and CSS and it appears to be well-supported by Adobe. More on jQuery Mobile here: http://jquerymobile.com/.
A Side Note: The Brackets Code Editor
Some of the coolest things I discover from these presentations are the tools that the presenter uses.
Brackets is an open-source code editor created and maintained by Adobe. One of the coolest features of Brackets is inline code editing. Say you are editing a div tag in your code and want to see the CSS that goes with it. Click a button, and the CSS for that div appears right below the line you are editing. Very cool!!!
Brackets is still in beta, but I’m going to be watching it. It could become the code editor that you’ve been looking for too.
Mongoose: An Easy-To-Use Web Server
To get people who didn’t have servers running on their laptops up and running quickly for the workshop, the presenter recommended using Mongoose. You simply download it (it works on Mac or PC), copy it to a directory, launch it, and boom, you have a web server running on your computer. No messing around with installing WAMP, MAMP or XAMPP. I already had a web server running on my laptop, but this seemed pretty cool.
Have you used Phone Gap or PhoneGap Build? What are your thoughts?