Dec 15 AT 2:31 PM Jeremiah Cohick 5 Comments

Using PhoneGap and the Sony Ericsson WebSDK to develop Android apps

If a client had asked my company, Digital Dandelion, to build a fully featured Android application in less than seven days a few weeks ago, I would have politely tried to find a way to tell them they were crazy, or at least say, “We’re booked right now.” We like challenges, but we’re a small company and we know our limits.

Then Sony Ericsson showed us its new WebSDK. The WebSDK enables web developers to produce mobile apps that work across different mobile phone platforms. It’s a tool created in collaboration with the PhoneGap open source community. PhoneGap allows web developers to build mobile applications in HTML and JavaScript that have access to the core features of the Android, Blackberry, and iPhone SDKs. The technology seemed promising and we were excited to test it. With Web 2.0 Expo over a week away, Sony Ericsson asked us to build an Android app using the WebSDK to be demonstrated on their new Xperia X10 phone.

Sony Ericsson is a sponsor of the Mavericks Surf Competition, a world-renowned big-wave surf competition at Half Moon Bay, California. When “ideal conditions strike,” two dozen of the world’s elite big-wave surfers are summoned to appear on just 24 hours notice. Sony Ericsson asked us to build an app based on the Mavericks Surf Competition website.

Working with one of my partner’s Arthur Nicholls, I mocked up the Mavericks Surf Contest app in Photoshop, just like we do for the websites and Facebook apps we are accustomed to making. He turned the visual design into an HTML and CSS in a day. I used the MooTools JavaScript framework to add interactions, and implemented the Google Maps and Twitter APIs just like we would on a website.

PhoneGap allows web apps to be first class citizens on mobile platforms. It does this by running webpages inside of a native application and providing a JavaScript bridge library to access device features. When I had finished the web pages, I added the files to the PhoneGap project in Eclipse, compiled, and ran the app on the X10.

PhoneGap and the Sony Ericsson WebSDK make it possible for web developers to maximize their access to the mobile market. Using familiar and accessible technologies, you can create a mobile application distributable in popular app distribution channels.

Be sure to check out the sample application we built. Make it even better and enter it into the Sony Ericsson Web App Challenge for a chance to win cash and other great prizes.

Resources

Jeremiah Cohick is Chief Gardener / President of Digital Dandelion a Los Angeles based company that produces mobile and web applications. You can learn more about Digital Dandelion at http://digitaldandelion.net/

    Most Tweeted This Week