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Jolt Awards: Mobile Development Tools

, March 04, 2014 The best tools for the nuts-and-bolts of building mobile apps.
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Jolt Productivity Award: PhoneGap

Adobe PhoneGap enables you to create native mobile apps with HTML, CCS, and JavaScript. PhoneGap is unique because it makes it possible for Web developers to target a truly wide array of mobile platforms, including Amazon Fire OS, Android, BlackBerry, iOS, Symbian, Windows Phone, Windows 8.x, and Tizen.

The framework is open sourced as Apache Cordova and it allows you to make the necessary calls to control each specific platform and device capability from JavaScript. The detailed documentation for each supported platform simplifies the process of targeting multiple platforms from a single source. In fact, other mobile HTML frameworks (such as Sencha, described earlier) are beginning to include support for Apache Cordova.

One of the most painful parts of creating native apps for different platforms is the need to execute multiple (and different) build processes that require you to maintain diverse native SDKs. The PhoneGap Build service removes this headache by offering a cloud-based build service, which increases productivity when you need to deliver updates to multiple platforms. If you prefer, of course, you can also install each necessary SDK and development environment to perform the conversion on your local machines.

If you want to take full advantage of each platform, you will need to learn how the framework allows you to interact with each feature — but you will be able to make the necessary calls without leaving JavaScript. The PhoneGap command-line tool simplifies the process of creating new projects, adding target platforms, building, emulating, and deploying apps. If you feel comfortable with the Node.js command-line utilities, you will easily understand how to work with the PhoneGap command-line tool.

Adobe PhoneGap was one of the first products to make it possible for Web developers to create complex native apps for multiple platforms without needing to learn the specific details of each SDK. This framework still provides everything a Web developer requires to increase productivity in the very complex mobile world.

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