We build JavaScript applications

Mobile Apps Building and Deployments at jsugfra[1]

This Monday we held the second iteration of our JavaScript User Group here in Frankfurt: #jsugfra (thanks Björn!)

There were only around 12 attendees there, although signups ranged around 20 - so shame on you if you didn’t show up! ;)

But it’s your loss, because aside from Evgenij’s talk you missed my “little” (1hr) hands-on session showing how you can deploy the same JS-based app - build upon Unify - to several platforms, namely those:
  • the browser,
  • homescreen (appcache on iOS) - this is different from the browser,
  • iOS (iPhone and iPad with PhoneGap),
  • Android (PhoneGap too),
  • BlackBerry PlayBook (WebWorks on TabletOS),
  • Samsung Bada (JS-App-Package),
  • WAC (sort of),
  • and Samsung Internet@TV

Unify makes this easy in many regards (JS-build process, appcache context detection etc.). My goal was to show the difficulties and differences in SDKs and build/deployment tools - this became pretty clear I think, especially talking about the difficulties. The main message I wanted to bring across this evening was:
If you want people to write apps for your platform, then given them some decent development tools!

This means preferably CLI build/deploy tools (helps with automating builds) and a well working Simulator/Emulator plus simple device deployments. If you consider these points and look at the app numbers in different stores you see what I mean:
  • Apple got this one right (Xcode and iOS Simulator just work, simple device deployments),
  • Android is behind in this (Eclipse and especially the Emulator is unusably slow, device deployment easy),
  • Blackberry is not bad (CLI tools, fast Emulator, simple deployment to devices),
  • Samsung does a separate thing for different platforms and both are Eclipse-based (only Windows! WTF?, Emulators work well tho)
  • WAC uses the Android Emulator (cf. above) with a Widget Runtime on it and an Eclipse-based SDK (translation: slow)

Bottom line is: Many Edit->Build->Deployment chains are just so unbearably slow and/or unusable that it takes all the fun out of coding for these platforms. If you add the Appstore(tm)-submission overhead to the calculation, pure development work becomes a much smaller part in the total effort.
Sebastian also wrote in detail about the JSUG meeting itself - thanks for that!
Looking forward to jsugfra[2]