PhoneGap: A tool on the move
As terrific as PhoneGap is, it could always do more. For example, I'd like to see better tools for manipulating data, as well as deeper support for Android standards like intents, which provide a means of handling messaging events such as an incoming call, the arrival of an email, or the completion of a file transfer. In some cases, a plug-in is available (such as WebIntent for using intents), but these run into reliability and compatibility issues whenever PhoneGap revs. Rather than relying on plug-ins for these native functions, they should be managed by PhoneGap.
PhoneGap maintains an aggressive release schedule with new updates pushed nearly every month. Although developers looking for hot, new features will appreciate the quick release cycle, the fast pace inevitably brings with it bugs and code reorganization to which early adopters and plug-in developers must be mindful. From a management perspective, I'd prefer to see less frequent and more significant releases.
Just into production is the cloud-based PhoneGap Build service, which takes your project files and kicks out a targeted binary ready for deployment. Although I found Build to be a little sluggish, it can be a real timesaver when contending with keys and certificates -- even if you're building for just one platform. But the big advantage is that Build sidesteps the need to maintain multiple development platforms for compilation. You can upload the code you built with the Android tools and kick out binaries for iOS, BlackBerry, and Windows Phone too.
Not every mobile project requires a native application or an enterprise infrastructure. If you're looking to extend a Web app to mobile devices, PhoneGap offers a fast, familiar, and cost-effective way forward, tapping native device features on every mobile platform that matters without requiring native programming. PhoneGap may be the fastest and easiest way to build data-driven mobile apps today.
This article, "PhoneGap: Mobile development made easy," originally appeared at InfoWorld.com. Follow the latest news in programming and mobile technology at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.
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