PhoneGap Build is Awesome

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Recently I’ve taken my first steps into the world of hybrid applications and found Adobe PhoneGap Build to be absolutely brilliant and essential. You may not believe this if you have seen some of my Twitter comments, but it’s true.

The hybrid application in question was built using jQuery Mobile and HTML5, with any data being retrieved via AJAX. It had to work on web browsers and also be an installable “native” application for Android and iOS.

This is where PhoneGap Build came in.

You upload your code to the website in a zip file (or you can link it to a GitHub repository) and PhoneGap build will compile installable versions of your code for Android, iOS (key required), Blackberry, Symbian, Windows Phone and WebOS.

Your applications can also use the PhoneGap API which the build process will convert into device specific code to allow access to things such as the camera, compass and contacts.

This just makes things so much easier than having to do it yourself and therefore is invaluable for hybrid application development.

Improvements

However. As alluded to above, I recently have been tweeting about the service being bad, but you can safely ignore that as I was just being a bit ranty.

Adobe offically launched PhoneGap Build the other week, and with that comes a pricing model and more people using the service and it can’t really cope. At times the whole build site goes down, or uploading your code takes ages and times out or some application builds either fail to work with no indication as to why or they take ages to build.

Adobe need to improve the service for it to stay as useful as it already is. Here’s a list of things that they need to do which, in my opinion, would improve PhoneGap Build:

  • Increased server capacity

    As mentioned above, at times the server(s) appears to be unable to cope with the build demans put on it, and this needs to be increased – apparently there is a plan to do this.

  • Ability to select builds

    At the moment, when you upload your code, the service builds native versions for all those that are supported even if you only require specifc devices. Now I don’t know the server configurations of the service, but surely this puts increased and unnecessary strain on the service? It should be possible to choose which devices you want to target when building your code.

  • Better support system

    At the moment the only support available is through forums where team members read and respond to posts. This needs to be replaced with a proper ticketing system.

  • More support coverage

    There appears to be a handful of personnel responding to the forums, and these are all based in Canada. This of course means that those of us in the “wrong” timezone can often have most of the working day wasted whilst waiting for a response. The guys there are doing a great job, but there are too few of them – apparently there is a plan to do this.

I know that Adobe don’t need people like me telling them how to improve their services, and chances are all of the above and more are in the pipeline for this service.

I look forward to such changes and improvments and will of course still continue to use PhoneGap Build as it is quite simply, awesome.