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PhoneGap Status: Moving to Apache and Adobe, Plugin Modularization, PhoneGap/Build Service

by Werner Schuster on Nov 24, 2011 |

With PhoneGap it's possible to build mobile application GUIs with HTML5/Javascript while retaining access to native features not available through W3 or browser APIs. The GUI runs in an HTML component, the native features are written in platform specific code and exposed to the GUI code as Javascript objects and methods. 

A lot has happened in the PhoneGap world recently: Nitobi, the company behind PhoneGap, was acquired by Adobe and announced that PhoneGap will move to Apache, albeit under a new name. Nitobi has also spent the past year building and improving PhoneGap/Build, an online build service for PhoneGap apps.

To get up to speed with PhoneGap's future and the latest technical improvements, InfoQ talked to Nitobi's Brian LeRoux

InfoQ: What's the state of PhoneGap plugins? Are they officially part of the PhoneGap API, is PhoneGap made of 100% plugins now?

Plugins are architecturally complete 100% across platforms. They are official but, of course, from platform to platform things vary. For example, to author a PhoneGap plugin for iOS you need to hack in Objective C. If you want that plugin to work on Android then you have to author the appropriate Java. We're working on streamlining plugin creation, validation, installation and discovery into the new year.

PhoneGap also supports Windows Phone 7.x, where it recently added support for Plugins.

InfoQ
: Is there a community of plugin developers or where plugin users can go?

Right now I'd like to encourage developers to join us on the Apache Callback mailing list where we are discussing the path forward for plugins.

Note: current mailing list archive for Apache Callback proposal.

InfoQ
: What's your experience with running PhoneGap/Build over the past few months?

We quietly released PhoneGap/Build in November of last year. In that time, we added iOS support, Git lifecycle, plugins (beta), and tonnes of small improvements to speed and user experience. The developer reaction has been phenomenal with over 50,000 apps built to date!

InfoQ: Any plans or things to mention about PhoneGap/Build?

You can expect WP7 support and native plugins completely supported in early 2012.

InfoQ: Do you know of solutions (or offer solutions) for testing builds on multiple platforms? (InfoQ reported previously about testing solutions for Android).

Well, PhoneGap/Build is perfect for this use case. Lots of [people] are automating / creating their own CI systems for mobile using our API: https://build.phonegap.com/docs/api

InfoQ: What are some of the changes in PhoneGap 1.x?

Big push for 1.x has been: more security, better performance and improved modularity. 1.1 boasted new whitelisting and security features.

InfoQ: Any fancy new features coming up? 

WebGL is being proofed out. We're looking at other things like WebIntents.

InfoQ: What's the situation with moving PhoneGap to Apache and calling it Apache Callback?

The current situation is looking like Callback was just too ambiguous of a name. Current thinking is that we will rename to Apache Cordova. The backstory here, Cordova Steet in Vancouver is where Nitobi was when PhoneGap came about. Happens to be the street I live on too.

For more information see the previous InfoQ content about PhoneGap.

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