PhoneGap - Write native apps for iPhone, Android, and Blackberry using JavaScript

Categories: Adobe AIR Frameworks iPhone JavaScript Objective-C RIA WebKit

From the site (

“PhoneGap is a development tool that allows web developers to take advantage of the core features in the iPhone, Android, and Blackberry SDK using JavaScript.”

PhoneGap essentially wraps a web view (WebKit on the iPhone) in a native app container, giving the web application access to core device APIs. This should go over well with the Adobe AIR crowd that’s already been sold on the idea of repurposing their web-based apps as “native” desktop apps, who are also interested in bringing that software to various mobile devices.

What will the programs created in this manner be called? Rich Internet Applications? Native Web Applications?

I’m a big proponent of web-based applications, but only inasmuch as they allow fairly ubiquitous access to data across devices. My biggest beef with web apps, though, is that they are much less responsive than native applications. Alright, let me rephrase that - a web application will always be inherently slower than a native app. I/O for the data model aside, a web app also has to contend with the fact that both its data and the presentation logic for the data must trickle over the wire or over the air (and then be rendered) before anything useful can be done with it. Native applications simply do not have to deal with the presentation waiting game.

So the scenario I see PhoneGap being used for is something like: provide as much presentation logic/code as possible in a local data store that gets installed with the app, and only download data for the user when necessary. Cache things that won’t change often. Use device APIs for storing user data locally and for things like geo location.

I’m excited about the prospects of using JavaScript (something fairly easy to pick up) to create “native” web apps for mobile devices. But I’m also aware that the speed, feel, and device integration of a true native app (especially if it gets its data from the web) will beat web applications in those same criteria for the foreseeable future.

Frickinsweet Visual Studio Theme Generator

Categories: DotNET JavaScript Visual Studio

Ryan Lanciaux, a .NET developer and friend of mine, has created a JavaScript-based Visual Studio theme generator. Use it to create great looking color schemes for viewing and editing code in Visual Studio 2005 and Visual Studio 2008.

Spreeder Bookmarklet

Categories: Cool Sites General JavaScript PHP

While I’m still skeptical about the comprehension and retention of text read using Spreeder (, a JavaScript-based speed-reading tool, they do provide a handy bookmarklet and Opera plugin that makes using the service more efficient. For the bookmarklet, simply drag this

Thanks to Ryan Lanciaux for this tip.

iPhone 3G Availability Tracker

Categories: iPhone JavaScript JSON

via John Gruber

No need to check every evening after 9 on Apple’s availability page if you plan on purchasing from an Apple retail store. The iPhone availability page, made by Chris Barnes, uses Apple’s JSON inventory feed which is updated every 15 minutes throughout the day:

Inquiring minds: SquirrelFish in Adobe AIR?

Categories: Adobe AIR JavaScript

Inquiring minds want to know: with WebKit officially banking on the use of the SquirrelFish JavaScript interpreter (WebKit is the HTML rendering engine underlying Apple’s Safari browser and Adobe’s AIR platform), does this mean that we’ll see Adobe moving away from using JavaScriptCore for JS execution and toward using SquirrelFish?

In 2006 Adobe donated the Tamarin interpreter to the Mozilla Foundation (press release). Tamarin is a JavaScript engine based on Adobe’s Flash ActionScript interpreter. More recently, a branch known as Tamarin Tracing is most likely going to make its way into Firefox 4.

Early tests have shown SquirrelFish to be a (whopping) 52% faster than Tamarin, which seems like it would make it an ideal candidate for AIR.

So the question is: will Adobe abandon the child of its scripting engine in favor of SquirrelFish?

[Update, 11/17/2008] Yes, they did indeed.

Bookmarklet for making browser HTML content editable

Categories: JavaScript

This is possibly a useless trick, but if you come up with any uses, let me know. I’m thinking maybe it could be used for checking how well content re-flows on the fly, without having to modify and upload a page. There are probably less scrupulous uses as well, but I won’t go into those.

Drag the following link to your bookmarks bar. Known to work in IE7, Firefox, and Safari.

Make HTML Editable

Zoomii Books, the Visual Online Bookstore

Categories: Cool Sites Java JavaScript

Zoomii is “an online visual bookstore which replicates the browsing goodness of real bookstores” (quote from developer Chris Thiessen).

Keep reading “Zoomii Books, the Visual Online Bookstore”...