PhoneGap: Hot or Not?


If you’re a mobile developer, then the chances are pretty good that you’ve heard of Phonegap. It’s a programming framework for mobile devices that enables developers to code apps in web languages, such as HTML, CSS, and Javascript. This means that those developers don’t have to learn the native languages for those devices, such as Java (Android) or Objective-C (iOS).

The question then becomes: is it best to use Phonegap? There are advantages and disadvantages to using it.


1. One obvious advantage is the time saved over learning a new programming language. Even though a web developer may already be well versed in Java, learning the necessary APIs to craft an Android UI is an effort that takes some time. This is true for even the most experienced Java developers, who have little to no knowledge of the Android API.

2. Portability. Phonegap is a “write once, run anywhere” solution. Once you’ve written the code and deployed it to iOS, you only need to make another deployment step for Android or Blackberry. You won’t need to port the code over to a completely different language. This is a signficant advantage considering the discrepancies between native languages used on different mobile platforms.

3. You still can take advantage of the integrated payment options available. This is true for Google Play on Android or the App Store on iOS. You don’t lose revenue by switching to Phonegap.


1. Speed. Don’t expect apps developed with Phonegap to run as quickly as a comparable app developed with native code. This point will probably be intuitive to most developers, especially those who have experience with frameworks that produce deployment packages. If your application is graphic-intensive (i.e., a game), then you’re probably better off using Unity or native code to produce it.

2. You won’t have access to a library of UI widgets. Most of your UI will have to be coded from scratch. If you were developing in the native language, you would be able to download one or more third party widgets specifically deisgned for that operating system. If you use Phonegap, you won’t be able to use those widgets.

It comes down to this: if speed and performance matter, you’re probably going to want to use native code. If rapid application development trumps application performance, you’ll probably do fine with Phonegap.

If you have any further questions about Phonegap, feel free to contact us. We’re here to help!

Image from robcottingham(dot)ca