Phonegap Build service
if you are just staring with the hybrid applications, the last thing you would like to care of is the application build process. Luckily, there are online services to do the job for you. All you need is to have your code ready. Most of these services offers free plans to start with, and believe me, in the beginning this is exactly what you need.
The one I would recommend is a service, provided by Adobe – Phonegap Build. You either need to upload your app code as a zip file or to pull it from a git repo, upload your developer signing certificates (and provisioning profile – for iOS) and push the build button. When the builds are ready, you are ready to install the application by scanning a QR code. There is also an option to share the app – check the “Allow public sharing” option and Phonegap Build will provide you with a page, where all available builds (Andorid, iOS, Windows) are listed. Pass this link to your testers or clients and let them install the latest version by clicking the OS icon or scanning a QR code. Note that the iOS version will be installed only on the devices, listed in the provisioning profile. For Android users, there will be a few warnings for installing a non-officially published app.
As part of the application settings in Phonegap Build, one could enable the Debug mode. It is handled on their servers by weinre project. First click on the debug button and then open your app. In a few weinre will register your app and you can use the provided interface (very similar to Chrome Developer Tools) to monitor the Network activity, to check the console, etc.
The free plan Phonegap Build offers is just fine to start with hybrid mobile applications development. It’s perfect even if you are working on a real project. You provided with one private project, unlimited public projects, unlimited builds for Android, iOS and Windows. Initially, Phonegap was using their own plugins repository, but it is now deprecated in favor of the official Cordova plugins and 3rd-party plugins, all available at npmjs.com. Another option to install a plugin is via a public github repository.
The paid plan costs $9.99 per month (Aug/2016) and provides you with 25 private apps and you can also use non-public plugins. The max app size is increased from 50MB to 100MB as well.
The unlimited public projects you can have, can only be setup via a public github repository. I wouldn’t relay too much on this feature, as there is a strange problem. On the app page, Phonegap Build will show you the app version (comes from config.xml file) and, in this case, last git commit code. What I’ve spotted is that as the last git commit code is always correct, the app version sometimes is an old one. For example, the config.xml file in the github repo had version=”0.0.5″, but the one shown in Phoengap Build was 0.0.3, which is odd. I could assume there is some delay in the actual pull operation. May be it is just scheduled, the repo meta data is retrieved only, as you can see your last commit code, but as the version code comes from the config.xml file, probably the code hasn’t been pulled yet. Until I’ve spotted this behavior, I found myself in a odd situation – I’m changing the code, pushing it to github, pull it on Phonegap build, testing the new build, the bug is there and once again, and once again. Then I’ve started changing the version code in config.xml file for every single build I perform and voila – the last commit is correct, but the version is old. Although I haven’t tested the paid subscription plan, the problem is related to a github-fed projects. There is no such problem with the private projects, when a zip file is uploaded.
- easy to use
- reliable (for private apps)
- free or very cheap ($9.99/mo)
- build share page
- API to automate the build process
- Non-reliable in combination with github repos