Creating Apps with Phonegap

Apple LogoEveryone knows that there are two major players in the smart phone world with a few more just behind them. Those two titans are Apple and Android, followed by Windows Phone 7 and many more. Companies that have limited resources may have to decide which platform(s) to have their mobile app developed for. This would be a completely different story if each of the different mobile devices were all based on the same programming language, but they aren’t. Just looking at the two largest players in the game, Apple uses Objective-C and Android uses Java. These are two completely different languages and takes more than a simple copy, past and maybe change a few things.Android Logo

Many companies will pick either Apple or Android, but rarely, if they are limited on resources, will they choose both. But what if there was a way to use one set of code and create apps on multiple platforms? Oh wait! There is!

PhoneGapEnter Phonegap

Developers can create an app using HTML, CSS, and JavaScript and then run the code through the Phonegap API for FREE! This will compile it into the different app platforms. I used this for myself a few days ago and wanted to share my experience.

 

Starting Out

Visit http://phonegap.com/ and follow the easily outlined steps to get it properly installed. On this site there are also many guides to help you get started on developing your app. As previously stated, Phonegap allows you to create apps using HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, in other words three languages I happen to be very fluent in and work with every day. So check that one off the list.

phonegap

Another helpful tool that you may want to look into is called Build Phonegap. Developed by Adobe, this tool will store your different app builds in the Adobe cloud keeping it nice and organized for you.

Developer Accounts 

Even though you are creating the app using Phonegap, it is important to still keep in mind that in order to publish an app you have to have a developers account. Apple requires a $99/year fee and Android has a one time $25 fee. Once you have these  you can get your signing keys and begin to develop and test the app.

Signing Keys

Apps require signing keys in order to prove that it is a legitimate app when submitted to their respective store. These keys are actually files that get included with the app bundle and is tied to a developer account and helps prove ownership. Not all platforms require signing keys. Right now only Apple, Android, and Blackberry require one. Another benefit to Build Phonegap, is that it makes it easy to sign the apps with the appropriate key and allows you to download the app right away to submit to the respective store when its ready.

Warnings

First, when a new phone operating system comes out, in my case iOS 7, it may take Phonegap a bit of time to catch up and make sure that features are compiling correctly. To overcome this issue, I added a couple lines of JavaScript that was specific to the iOS platform and compiled it in XCode, which is the Apple software used to make apps, instead of PhoneGap and the issue was fixed.

Second, when creating the app and writing the HTML, meta tags are used to set specific parameters for the app, one being the width of the app. On Android, the one thing I learned was that even if you set the width of the app to the width of the device, it will always be 800 pixels wide (even if the device is 320 pixels wide). This was an easy fix though, just had to set the width of the app specifically to 320 pixels and then it was all set.

I hope this helps in the creation of your next mobile application. Or, if you would rather someone else create it for you, we’d be more than happy to help!

photo credit

 

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