September 25, 2012

Building Mobile Apps Made Easy – Adobe’s New PhoneGap Build Takes HTML5 Forward

Today, Adobe (NewsAlert) revealed the general release and availability of Adobe PhoneGap Build, a new service that allows developers and designers to build apps for mobile devices using standard Web technologies and then package them in the cloud.

PhoneGap Build – keep in mind that Adobe is calling it a service, we’ll come back to why this is below – is built on top of the familiar PhoneGap framework. This in turn is a distribution of the Apache Cordova open source project, offering new features that allow developers to compile apps faster than with any native Software Development Kit (SDK) and targets all major platforms with a single codebase (build it once, deploy to any platform). Following an extensive beta testing phase, PhoneGap Build is now publicly available via Creative Cloud.

According to Adobe, PhoneGap has now become the most popular mobile app development framework available. It currently boasts over one million downloads and 400,000 PhoneGap developer. The platform has emerged as a top-level open source project with major companies contributing to Apache Cordova including Google, Microsoft, HP, IBM, Intel, RIM, Nokia (News Alert) and others.

An interesting video is available for a PhoneGap overview. Prominent apps built with PhoneGap include Wikipedia, the BBC London Olympics app, Microsoft (News Alert) Halo Waypoint, Zynga’s Mafia Wars Shakedown, Salesforce Hybrid Mobile SDK and Amanita Designs’ new Kooky game app.

More than 90,000 developers and designers have used the PhoneGap Build Beta service, and during the beta phase managed to compile 200,000 applications. The overriding goal of PhoneGap Build is to remove the key challenges developers face during the deployment cycle by automatically compiling apps for each major app store without having to maintain native SDKs – this is a huge means to cutting down both on cost of development as well as on ease of development.

Finding and using programmers with native code expertise is a far more costly endeavor than reaching out to developers with HTML, JavaScript and CSS (NewsAlert) expertise. It is a simple game of supply and demand.

PhoneGap and PhoneGap Build equalize the playing field and allow developers to execute at almost the same level as native3 coding provides – this is key to PhoneGap being viable as a true development platform. There are no critical compromises being made, but development time is speeded up considerably.

With the new PhoneGap Build Hydration feature, developers can take advantage of faster debug and build cycles and instantly notify testers of new versions. A “Share” function allows users to review app prototypes with colleagues and clients through a QR code that automatically installs the app.

PhoneGap Build supports all major mobile platforms including iOS, Android, BlackBerry (News Alert), Windows Phone, Bada, webOS and Symbian. The new service is available through Adobe Creative Cloud starting today. Available to customers in 36 countries and in multiple languages, pricing for Creative Cloud membership for individuals is US$49.99 per month based on an annual membership and US$74.00 per month for month-to-month memberships. An introductory offer of US$29.99 per month is available to qualified customers for a limited time. A standalone subscription to the PhoneGap Build service is also available for $9.99 per month.

Here is the reason for PhoneGap Build being referred to as a service: For those not familiar with Creative Cloud it represents a new way for Adobe to offer its “entire” suite of services in a way that allows users to be able to afford thousands of dollars of software at a fraction of the price. Adobe thinks of it as “a shift in creative expression and inspiration, where members can explore, create, publish, and share their work across devices, the desktop, and the Web.”

It is well worth it to become a member. Adobe offers a 30 day free trial, and for $49 per month with a one year commitment (for non-commitment the fee is $74 per month) a user will have access to the entire Adobe suite of products. Members are able to download and install all of Adobe’s creative desktop applications and get access to different online services.

PhoneGap Build is an excellent “service” and offers an easy means to jump onto the HTML5 bandwagon. It is a robust platform, and combined with the rest of the capabilities that a user will have access to through Creative Cloud, is well worth the price of admission. Check it out.

Want to learn more about HTML5? Then be sure to attend HTML5 Summit- a DEVCON5 Event, collocated with ITEXPO West 2012 taking place Oct. 2-5, in Austin, TX.  Stay in touch with everything happening at HTML Summit. Follow us on Twitter.


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