Adobe Updates PhoneGap With Windows Phone Support

The PhoneGap team at Adobe Systems has released PhoneGap 1.3, the latest version of the open source HTML5 mobile development framework.

The new release comes with full support for Microsoft Windows Phone, as well as new support for BlackBerry and enhancements for Android and iOS.

Updated Framework

However, the main issue with PhoneGap 1.3 is the progress made with BlackBerry and Windows Phone. For BlackBerry, the new release adds OSX support so developers can now develop for BlackBerry on a Mac. And for Windows Phone, developers can now use the full PhoneGap API, Windows Phone Getting Started Guide, more documentation updates and many plug-ins.

PhoneGap is an HTML5 app platform that enables developers to write native applications with web technologies and get access to APIs and app stores. PhoneGap uses web technologies developers already know best – HTML and JavaScript. Building applications for each device – iPhone, Android, Windows Mobile and more – requires different frameworks and languages. PhoneGap uses standards-based web technologies to bridge web applications and mobile devices. And because PhoneGap apps are standards compliant, they are future-proofed to work with browsers as they evolve.

In a 19 December blog post, Abu Obeida Bakhach, an interoperability strategy program manager at Microsoft said, “We’re also pleased to note that all features in PhoneGap 1.3 are now supported for Windows Phone, as you can see on their site here. Also, beyond the core PhoneGap features, developers can enjoy a selection of PhoneGap plug-ins that support social networks – including Facebook, LinkedIn, Windows Live and Twitter – and a solid integration into Visual Studio Express for Windows Phone. We have also developed further plug-ins to give HTML5 developers a feel for Windows Phone’s unique features like Live Tile Update and Bing Maps Search.”

The next version of PhoneGap, the PhoneGap 1.4 release will be from the Cordova incubation project at Apache. Cordova is the renamed Apache Callback project.

“We at Microsoft are proud to be members of this project and to offer technical resources,” Obeida said. “We welcome the involvement of Adobe, IBM and RIM and look forward to collaboratively growing PhoneGap at its new home in Apache while helping evolve an open web for any device. Microsoft’s commitment to HTML5 in IE9 has been instrumental in achieving this level of support. We are also building on our HTML5 investment through initiatives like bringing jQuery Mobile support as we outlined few weeks ago. Partnering with open source communities to bring this level of openness continues to be an important goal here at Microsoft.”

Visual Studio

Meanwhile, in another 19 December blog post, Jesse Macfadyen, the developer lead on PhoneGap, shared his experiences working with PhoneGap on Windows Phone. Macfadyen lauded the Visual Studio development platform, saying:

“Building apps for Windows Phone requires the use of Visual Studio, and early on we chose to use C# as the development language for all native functionality. Visual Studio is a very capable tool and the out of the box templates it gives you to make a Windows Phone app are very well documented, easy to understand, and a great help in getting started. Having developed app/websites in Visual Studio since VS6, I felt right at home.”

Macfadyen also said, “Writing in C# was a refreshing change from Objective-C, spending less time worrying about memory management and [awkward syntax] and focusing on the task at hand. I knew less about the Silverlight portions of the Windows Phone SDK, however this does not get in your way, as there is no real difference between the code you write, and it is only in the WPF/XAML that this comes into play. PhoneGap apps for Windows Phone have one PhoneApplicationPage and the majority of the work is done in the code behind.”

Moreover, Macfadyen said the level of functionality that is available within a Windows Phone app is consistent with other device SDKs. He also said the improved “Chakra” JavaScript engine in Internet Explorer 9 provides good code performance and the browser’s Trident layout engine is a big improvement over older versions of IE. And he noted that the Windows Phone marketplace is very similar to other platforms. Discovery, et al, can happen in the browser, as well as on the device, or in the Zune software.

Regarding the Windows Phone Metro user interface, Macfadyen said:

“The user interface for Windows Phone has been drastically redesigned, and has received much acclaim for the fact that it does not look like a runt in the iOS litter. Metro does a good job of combining accounts, and contacts into the ‘friends’ tile, and has some great social interaction shortcuts. With updates happening from different accounts and services, the home screen on Windows Phone Mango literally looks alive with activity.”

Macfadyen summarised that: “On Windows Phone, PhoneGap is incredibly flexible. The API is implemented inside a user-control. This means that you can easily add a little PhoneGap to an existing WP7 app, or if you choose, you can add Silverlight controls to your PhoneGap app.”

Adobe acquired Nitobi, the creator of PhoneGap, in October 2011.

Darryl K. Taft

Darryl K. Taft covers IBM, big data and a number of other topics for TechWeekEurope and eWeek

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