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

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

From the site (http://www.phonegap.com/):

“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.

FI Launches Kontain Alpha

Categories: ActionScript Adobe Flex AS3 Cool Sites Flash RIA

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Kontain, the Flash-based blogging and media sharing site from agency powerhouse FI launched its alpha version on November 13th. The evolution of FI’s Propod rich media blogging system, Kontain is a promising and beautifully designed site. The clean design is mildly reminscent of Virb, with a pinch of (new) Facebook thrown in for good measure.

FI is one of few firms that can do full Flash sites very well. However, understanding that it is still an alpha, the site really ought to provide alternate content for computers without Flash installed. And while the site does attempt to redirect to a slimmed down version of the site for iPhone/mobile users, on my iPhone sending to http://i.kontain.com/ failed because of “too many redirects”.

It remains to be seen if the lack of alternate content for search engines will be detrimental (although FI may have plans to provide alternate content in a future release), or if Google’s advancements towards Flash content discover-ability will overcome this sticking point.

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As a funny side note, the back-end for Kontain appears to be running JBoss/Apache on a ColecoVision (operating at 3.58 MHz).

First impressions of Google Chrome beta

Categories: Google Chrome RIA Web Apps WebKit

I’ve just installed the brand-spanking-new Google Chrome beta (previous post), and I must say, I like the way the UI feels and works. The interface really allows you to focus on the site or webapp you’re using. Google pays homage to browsers like Safari, Opera, and Firefox in their introductory comic (http://books.google.com/books?id=8UsqHohwwVYC&printsec=frontcover), but my initial impression is that Google has done an incredible job of adapting and improving other’s implementations.

Now for some screenshots for those who’ve not yet installed it. The “Stats for nerds” link in the memory usage dialog box made me chuckle a little (third screen below). And notice that in the memory usage screen, Chrome shows memory utilization for other browsers (Firefox 3 is listed in the fourth screen below).

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Chrome has insanely fast JavaScript execution via the V8 engine created by Google Denmark. See the Dromaeo results for Chrome (381.20ms - http://dromaeo.com/?id=30827) versus Dromaeo results for Firefox (1338.60ms - http://dromaeo.com/?id=30827) and Safari (1399.60ms - http://dromaeo.com/?id=30842). Of note there is that I have Chrome running in a virtual machine, VMWare Fusion, which means it could be even faster when running natively on the Mac.

While I haven’t necessarily put Chrome through its paces, I have gotten it to Sad Tab once so far - and it was while using Google Analytics. Maybe their test driven development process (mentioned in the comic) should have stuck closer to home awhile longer.

Chrome also seems to have trouble vetting its own Adsense site’s SSL certificate, but that’s probably related to my not having placed the www in the URL.
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In all I’ve found Google Chrome to be an excellent browser thus far - it’s fast and stable, and integrated Google Gears is going to mean a much higher rate of adoption by developers. Time will tell if this is truly an early phase of the Google OS, but as web browsers go, Chrome is top-notch.

Google Chrome comic by Scott McCloud, SuperSite preview

Categories: Google Chrome RIA Web Apps WebKit

Google Chrome is a new web browser built on WebKit (the same HTML engine used by Apple Safari) designed from the ground up with web applications in mind. Security, speed, and stability in Google Chrome is paramount, with sandboxed tabs, the V8 JavaScript engine, and a multiprocessing architecture.

See the Wikpedia entry here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_Chrome

Prior to the press conference being held at 18:00 GMT (GMT converter) where the beta will be announced, Google has released a comic about Chrome. In my opinion this is a really interesting way to generate buzz about a product. http://books.google.com/books?id=8UsqHohwwVYC&printsec=frontcover

Paul Thurrott, noted Microsoft and Windows pundit, has an early preview and his take on Chrome. http://www.winsupersite.com/reviews/google_chrome_preview.asp