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Testing PhoneGap Apps on Devices without SDK, Compilation or Code Signing

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PhoneGap has released PhoneGap Developer App, a tool for testing apps during development, bypassing the whole SDK and the need for compiling or signing the code. LiveReload with GapReload can do the same thing.

To use this app, a developer needs to have the PhoneGap CLI on his/her development machine and to install the PhoneGap Developer App from the iOS App Store or Google Play. Support for Windows is expected to come soon. By issuing the PhoneGap CLI serve command on a specific mobile application, the development machine is transformed into a server that pairs up with the PhoneGap app on a mobile device via WiFi. The server monitors changes to the code and automatically sends them over to the device without performing native compilation or code signing. This enables even testing iOS apps from a Windows machine, according to Raymond Camden, an Adobe PhoneGap developer.

PhoneGap Developer App includes the PhoneGap core plugins so one does not need to install them separately. Also, Shazron mentioned that Adobe is going to open source the app these days, so one can extend it to add third party plugins.

Currently, when code changes and is transferred to the device, the app page is reloaded. Also, Safari or Chrome Remote Debugging do not work with Developer App but Weinre works, according to Camden.

Another way to do something similar is with LiveReload plus GapReload, both open sourced. LiveReload works for web apps and does the code transfer magic for iOS devices and Windows, and support for Android is coming in the next version of the tool, according to Andrey Tarantsov, father of the tool. GapReload is a LiveReload plug-in which adds specific support for PhoneGap/Cordova apps. The advantage of LiveReload is that some changes do not need a page reload. According to Sebastien Paul, “Live Reload won't do a full page refresh if you modify a CSS file, it will inject the new rules on the fly and this is really handy.”

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