Brian LeRoux on PhoneGap

This article first appeared in issue 226 of .net magazine – the world's best-selling magazine for web designers and developers.

Once upon a time, building apps for different mobile devices was a nightmare. First you’d have to learn Objective C to create your iPhone app. Then you’d have to start all over again to create apps for Android, BlackBerry, Palm, Symbian … learning a completely new language each time.

But the open source platform PhoneGap changes all that. All you need do is code your app in HTML, CSS and JavaScript and PhoneGap will convert it to work on different devices. It even gives you access to native features such as a phone’s camera, contacts and accelerometer. And Brian LeRoux of PhoneGap’s creator Nitobi is keen to spread the good news.

But while he’s PhoneGap’s best-known evangelist, he’s no zealot, cheerfully accepting that other tools may meet your needs better. “Philosophically there is no golden hammer,” he says. “It’s a good habit for any software developer to go and investigate all the possibilities for yourself.” He recommends, for example, that you investigate Corona if you’re a game developer. “But if you’re a web developer and you want to reuse some of your logic – if not most of it – from your mobile website, or you’re looking to build a mobile website and then progressive-enhance it to an app store, then that’s when PhoneGap makes a lot of sense.”

And one further reason it makes sense lies in its origins: it was created by developers, for developers, to fix a real-world problem.

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