Claudiu Persoiu

Blog-ul lui Claudiu Persoiu

Archive for 14 August 2011

PhoneGap – first impressions

without comments

Last week I wanted to make an mobile application (Android). Initially I wanted to use Titanium, a platform that I’ve played with in the past and I was nicely impressed.

But after I downloaded the compiler and made the first application I had a surprise, the “Hello world” app had about 5M. How did it get so big? Simple, Titanium compiles the application into native code but there is no clear method by which to determine what APIs are used, so the minimum necessary APIs are compiled in order for all features to work. The perspective of an app bigger then 5M didn’t impress me, so I’ve started searching for alternatives.

I’ve installed Phonegap, I wanted to make a game on this platform for a long time, but because the installation is not as elegant as it is for Titanium I wasn’t very delighted. I’ve made a “Hello world” app and it had only… ~200k! A reasonable size in my opinion.

Of course there is a reason for that size, PhoneGap is giving access to a lot of features like: accelerometer, camera or contacts, but nothing on the presentation layer. The presentation is made exclusively with HTML, CSS and JavaScript.

The entire PhoneGap project is based on the fact that most platforms have a “web view” that can parse a web page.

But because the project is not as “packed” as Titanium new features can be added relatively easy. For instance, for Android there are a decent number of projects that add new features to the platform. Loading them is not very difficult, but is not plug & play. Basically there are Java modules for Android that expose an API that can be called from “web view”. This can be an advantage, because there is a community that is developing features that don’t necessarily need to be in the “core”.

For simple apps that only list or display information, the platform is a interesting alternative, especially because there are a lot of JavaScript and CSS frameworks for formatting mobile pages like: jQTouch, jQuery Mobile or XUI. The platform is great for packing applications of this nature. For instance if you have an HTML app for mobile and you want to add some native phone features and to distribute the compiled version, PhoneGap does a great job.

On the other hand, even if you can access for instance the menu button, you can’t create a native menu.

As a conclusion, this is a platform that has a completely different approach to Titanium. If Titanium is based on the fact that an application will compile to native code with native APIs, all the code base is written in JavaScript and web view is only one of the options available, PhoneGap’s approach is that the presentation is made exclusively in a web view using HTML(5) + CSS and only some device specific APIs can’t be accessed from the browser and are not presentation related to be exposed, like: vibration, buttons, etc. Taking that into consideration I don’t think that the two platforms can be really compared, only the developer can decide what approach is best.

Written by Claudiu Persoiu

14 August 2011 at 3:05 PM

Posted in Diverse,JavaScript

Tagged with , ,