Online education portals like Udacity and Coursera are really changing the world of remote learning in significant ways. By making free and high quality education accessible to a global audience, these platforms are opening up undreamt of possibilities for communities around the world to improve, grow, and prosper in the digital economy of the 21st century. Education at top tier colleges and universities has traditionally been a social and economic privilege, but now anyone can join in the learning revolution by sitting in virtual classrooms with the world’s best and brightest educators. Whether this involves learning how to code and build smart phone apps, or starting up a new business, or learning about public health literacy, the sky is the limit of what’s now possible.

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Mobile Application Development Platforms (MADPs) – Part 3

MADPIn Part 2 of this series we kicked off a discussion on the PhoneGap environment and how it uses the UIWebview (or Webview) environment to communicate with the Native code of the device through a set of JavaScript calls. Understanding how this web to native abstraction works helps us to better appreciate the main value proposition behind MADPs and what it means to “write once, run everywhere.” So now let’s continue from where we left off in our discussion on PhoneGap.


PhoneGap Continued


If you stop to think about it for a moment, there are quite a number of potential benefits to accessing a device’s camera or accelerometer through a JavaScript call rather than relying exclusively on native code like Objective C (iOS) or Java (Android). For instance:


  • There is one code base, which means it is reusable; this leads to much easier deployment.
  • Development costs are much cheaper since it’s easier to leverage developers with web technologies like HTML5, CSS, and JavaScript than to hire Objective C or Java developers.
  • This environment allows for easy creation of new plugins and easy integration with other existing plugins, APIs, and cloud services.





Creating your mobile applications in PhoneGap is fairly straightforward. There are two primary development options. The first is a command line interface (CLI), which involves downloading SDKs for each environment you wish to development applications in, whether iOS, Android, Windows, ect. PhoneGap provides full documentation here on how to setup the CLI and get started with writing and customizing your native applications.


An alternative to approach to setting up the CLI and downloading SDKs is to use PhoneGap Build. This is a cloud-based service that allows uploads of the project files and automates the packaging and compilation process so that you can push out a mobile app in a matter of minutes. PhoneGap Build offers several development options:


  • Upload your project files directly through the PhoneGap Build website.
  • Link PhoneGap Build directly to GitHub and dynamically pull in remote code repositories.
  • Link the PhoneGap command-line tool to the PhoneGap Build account and then build the projects with a single command.








There you have it in a nutshell; PhoneGap provide developers with a bundled set of JavaScript APIs that give direct access to the various Native features of a device (accelerometer, GPS, camera). The real value proposition of this platform is the “write once, run everywhere” capability – you just write the code once and deploy to your device of choice.


The Takeaways on PhoneGap


PhoneGap has been called the Swiss Army Knife for Mobile App Development. The designation is not without warrant. As mobility continues to grow exponentially there are solid reasons why businesses need to develop and deploy applications in as agile and efficient manner as possible. Here are some important takeaways for why PhoneGap can add strong value to your organization’s mobile application development strategy:


  • PhoneGap offers a true “write once, run everywhere” environment since it supports iOS, Android, Windows Mobile, Blackberry and Symbian.
  • Development costs are much cheaper and deployment much quicker since organizations can leverage web technologies without paying higher costs for Native coding and redeployment.
  • PhoneGap is easily extensible and allows for easy integration with other existing plugins, APIs, and cloud services, not to mention the creation of new ones.
  • PhoneGap has a strong global user community with more than 120,000 apps developed using the platform.


We’ve discussed PhoneGap at some length so let’s move on to the next major MADP on the market, Appcelerator. We again want to learn what it is, how it works, and what value proposition it offers for today’s business leaders.


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About Jeffrey Walker

Jeff is a business development consultant who specializes in helping businesses grow through technology innovations and solutions. He holds multiple master’s degrees from institutions such as Andrews University and Columbia University, and leverages this background towards empowering people in today’s digital world. He currently works as a research specialist for a Fortune 100 firm in Boston. When not writing on the latest technology trends, Jeff runs a robotics startup called, along with oversight and leadership of - an emerging market assistance company that helps businesses grow through innovation.