Advantages And Disadvantages Of PhoneGap

PhoneGap is a ‘dream come true’ framework for businesses and developers. It lets you build applications for different platforms. Initially, developers had to build different applications based on the platform it was deployed in, and this was a waste of time and resources as they needed to use different frameworks and languages for each of the platform.

With the mobile application development framework, known as PhoneGap, you can write an app once using languages like CSS, Javascript and HTML, and then deploy it across various mobile devices. This would work almost like a native app with native features.

When a developer develops apps using this language, he need not have any programming language knowledge, but just knowledge in web development languages.

Now, while looking at the advantages of this framework, let’s look at how it can help the business owner and the developer.

The positive sides

1. Two benefits in one go

Obviously, PhoneGap is well known for cross platform capabilities, so you can develop a single app, and deploy it across all mobile platforms. This is a huge win for both the developer and the business, because within the shortest possible Time To Market, their product is on the roll. Less effort, less time and less money!

2. Release uniform products across all platforms

Uniformity was a prime issue that businesses faced in the initial stages of product development as they were unable to release uniform functionalities across all the mobile platforms. An app developed for iPhone may look different in Android and vice versa. The framework makes it possible to have uniformity through the system of cross-platform app development.

3. No need to hire expert developers

Native app development required experts who would probably work only to develop products for a particular platform. But PG makes it lucky for businesses because just working knowledge of Javascript, CSS3 and HTML5 would be perfect to create cross-platform apps. And this you can get in-house as well. It’s good news for the developers too because they don’t have to learn a new language to use this framework.

4. Each app can behave like native apps

An app behaves like native application when it taps into the smartphone’s hardware and make use of attributes like geolocation, camera, accelerometer and so on. This framework taps into these hardware capabilities and provides excellent UX in the process. In fact, the user would hardly know that it is a cross-platform one.

5. Robust Backend

The highly robust backend system helps in rapid product development and this reduces development efforts. However, if you are a beginner in the field of development, you can refer to PhoneGap’s beginner’s guide to know how to speed up development process. A robust backend is like having strong roots because it really affects the performance of your app.

6. Open Source

With its open source license, the framework is essentially free. And there is a huge and growing community of developers that uploads details of new codes and modules, making to easier for newcomers.

7. Backed by Apache, Powered by Apache Cordova

Being a distribution of Apache Cordova, PhoneGap is powered by it, and contains several additional tools that tie into other services of Adobe. Therefore, you can also say that Adobe backs the technology. In turn, PhoneGap powers AEM mobile (Adobe Experience Manager), through which developers target multiple platforms. Through AEM Mobile, enterprises can manage all the activities of their mobile apps from a single place. With the help of PhoneGap plugin ContentSync, you can fetch and cache your app’s content. AEM Mobile Verify is also powered by this technology and this helps you to test and preview the changes you make on an app. The tests can be performed on both iOS and Android devices.

8. Easy to work plugins

The PhoneGap native-app container, PhoneGap Build supports several PhoneGap or Cordova plugins, aiding in extending the native functionalities while developing apps. You can get the plugins from the Adobe repository, public git repository and npm. Some of the well known recent plugins in the repositories are StatusBar, PushPlugin, Barcode Scanner, Social Sharing, GAPlugin, Facebook Connect and Pushwoosh.

Potential drawbacks

1. Doesn’t support Plugins with hooks

PhoneGap Builds do not support plugins with hooks, so at certain times that can hinder with the functionality. For example, there are hooks in WordPress that helps the developer to tie their code with the core code base, plugins and themes in WP. Similarly, PGBuilds doesn’t support Cordova hooks.

2. Not suitable for hardware intensive apps

PG, with all its complexity of plugins and APIs may fail to deliver while developing a gaming app. The gaming developers are likely to experience ‘freeze’ and ‘drop’ issues after push notification from their apps.

3. Need a Mac for developing iOS apps

PhoneGap app developers cannot develop an iOS program without downloading iOS SDKs, and this is not possible without a Mac. However, you can counter with limitation with the help of PG Builds as it can compile your build and return the final file.

4. Plugins could be outdated

Sometimes, the plugins in PG could be outdated, and this could hinder with app functionality. And for some features, you don’t have a related plugin. For example, geolocation in your app may not function optimally, or the camera may not work well. You may realise this only half-way through the project, and that is not an option for many enterprises.

Closing Thoughts

It is believed that Adobe PhoneGap acts as an alternative to Xamarin, and it shares a lot of features with hybrid app development framework. PG does play an important role in the thriving hybrid app development ecosystem. With a toolkit consisting of JavaScript, HTML5, and CSS3, you can easily develop quality apps and market them in a reasonable amount of time.

The framework definitely tops the list when you consider features like flexibility, functionality and complexity of apps. The native-like UI that you can augment with custom or third-party plugins makes it one of the best client-facing internal app development framework in the world.

If you don’t have a team of in-house developers proficient in using this framework, you can easily get a remote developer. The documentation is considerably detailed and informative, and the pool of global programmers is pretty diverse.

Interesting Articles:
Interesting answers on Quora on advantages and disadvantages of PhoneGap
Check the developers view about the limitations and drawbacks of PG

Picture Source: Surrey County/ Souza

The author: Reema Oamkumar is engaged as a thought leader at which is a part of the YUHIRO Group. YUHIRO is a German-Indian enterprise which provides programmers to IT companies, agencies and IT departments.

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