This week Apache Cordova (formerly known as PhoneGap) graduated from the Apache incubator and is now a top level Apache project. Cordova got its start as PhoneGap at a company called Nitobi. Adobe acquired Nitobi in 2011 and donated PhoneGap to the Apache Software Foundation which placed in incubator status. Adobe continues to develop PhoneGap as a release of Cordova but indicates that it may acquire some proprietary features.
I first encountered Cordova while working on an Android application for a defense contractor. The application was map focused and allowed users to see where friendly forces (and others if known) were on the battlefield. The application was built natively in Android using Java (Dalvik). A number of potential customers expressed an interest in the application but wanted it on different platforms like iOS or on a desktop browser.We were struggling with the potential of having to rewrite the application for multiple platforms including some proprietary hardware/software used in our industry.
In addition to packaging the web functionality, Cordova exposes many native device features including sensors, the file system and contacts. Since Cordova runs as a native app on the device, Cordova-based apps have been accepted in Apple’s iTunes app store. Here is a sampling of Cordova/PhoneGap based apps currently in production:
- Wikipedia — Wikipedia Mobile
- Facebook — Mobile SDK
- SalesForce.com — Mobile Development SDK
- IBM — Worklight Platform for Mobile
- Microsoft — Halo Waypoint
As a mobile developer I think Cordova (I still have trouble not calling it PhoneGap) is a credible cross platform solution that can help organizations manage the growing array of mobile platforms in use by their customers and employees.