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This article was published on July 30, 2011

PhoneGap is a Swiss Army knife for mobile app developers

PhoneGap is a Swiss Army knife for mobile app developers
Mike Vardy
Story by

Mike Vardy

Mike Vardy is a husband, father, independent writer, speaker, podcaster and "productivityist". He is also the author of the book, The Front Mike Vardy is a husband, father, independent writer, speaker, podcaster and "productivityist". He is also the author of the book, The Front Nine: How To Start The Year You Want Anytime You Want, published by Diversion Books. You can learn more about his other work at his website,, visit his blog at, and you can follow him as @mikevardy on Twitter.

When developers have the ability to craft applications for multiple platforms with little to no barrier, amazing things can happen. 6Wunderkinder is a prime example of this, as it managed to deliver its popular Wunderlist productivity app to additional platforms in short order thanks to a partnership with Appcelerator. But not every developer has the time (or resources) to forge such a relationship, and thanks to Friday’s release of Nitobi’s PhoneGap 1.0, they don’t have to.

PhoneGap is an HTML5 platform that allows developers to use HTML, CSS and JavaScript to create native mobile applications. Now developers can write their app once and deploy it to six major mobile platforms and app stores, including iOS, Android, BlackBerry, WebOS, Bada and Symbian. With the open source code receiving contributions from a dedicated community of developers, PhoneGap has increased in both stability and durability – which has played a large part in the project averaging approximately 40,000 downloads per month at the time of writing.

While PhoneGap 1.0 was officially released by Nitobi at PhoneGap Day in Portland, Oregon on Friday, the company is based in Vancouver, BC. In fact, The Next Web Canada covered PhoneGap’s initial launch late last year. But the building of PhoneGap has been an effort that goes well beyond the team at Nitobi, a fact that is not lost on company CEO Andre Charland.

“The community built up around PhoneGap is its greatest asset,” says Charland. “The PhoneGap community identifies common pain points and works together to overcome them.”

A team of senior software engineers at IBM have also been involved in the development of PhoneGap, and the assistance has been a major benefit to the community.

According to Nitobi, today’s major release puts the focus on accessing native device APIs, which is new ground for the web. Other improvements include overall API stability and “pluggable” architecture, W3C DAP API compatibility, contacts API and remote debugging tools. Moreover, a new unifying bridge interface was added that makes adding platforms and platform extensions simpler, along with simplification of the plugin development process.

“Most of these new enhancements come from our community,” said Brian LeRoux, Senior Software Engineer at Nitobi and PhoneGap evangelist. “For instance, PhoneGap developers were calling for a consistent way to make plugins that would run on all major smartphone platforms and this release does that.”

To learn more about what PhoneGap has to offer, check out the introductory video below.

With over 600,000 downloads of the PhoneGap code to date and thousands of apps built using PhoneGap available in mobile app stores and directories, the arrival of version 1.0 may just keep those numbers growing – and spur further growth for the company behind the project as well.