Nitobi Helps Close the Gap with the PhoneGap Tool


BlackBerry DevCon Americas Speaker

COM12 – PhoneGap and BlackBerry WebWorks SDK: Two Allies that helped Simplify Development of Nursing App
Find out what it takes to successfully build and deploy a BlackBerry® app with the BlackBerry® WebWorks™ Platform and the PhoneGap open source development framework.

Michael Brooks, Software Barista with Nitobi Software Inc.

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For the past decade, Nitobi’s developers have made it clear that they’re not only interested in developing excellent mobile and web applications, but also in changing the way rich internet applications are built. Nitobi created the popular PhoneGap, an open source development tool used to build cross-platform applications that are designed to take advantage of core features of BlackBerry® SDKs. On top of application design and development, the Vancouver, Canada-based company offers its clients consulting services, training, and on-going technical support.

Nitobi CEO Andre Charland and software developer Michael Brooks tell us about the PhoneGap project, the importance of working with the Research In Motion Limited (RIM®) development team and how the BlackBerry WebWorks platform has embraced where the future of development is heading.

Tell us about the functionality of the PhoneGap tool.
PhoneGap acts as a bridge between web applications and mobile devices, and is similar to BlackBerry WebWorks in that it allows users to create native applications using web applications. The difference is that PhoneGap can be used across all platforms. It leverages HTML and JavaScript® and fits our web mentality of creating a unique user experience by creating applications that can function on any device.

What sort of similarities do you see between BlackBerry WebWorks and the PhoneGap development tools?
We think that with BlackBerry WebWorks, RIM is really embracing what the future is. While we constantly have to add PhoneGap support for the other platforms, BlackBerry WebWorks is directly aligned with the PhoneGap mentality. With BlackBerry WebWorks, you develop using web technology like HTML, CSS3, and JavaScript, and it allows you to access tools that invoke the native functionality of the BlackBerry® smartphone. iOS and Android™ both have their own languages, and it makes it a lot more difficult to make JavaScript reach into the native side to invoke functionality and return the responses. BlackBerry WebWorks is really paying off and will continue to do so with the BlackBerry® PlayBook™ tablet and BlackBerry® 7.

How involved has RIM been throughout the PhoneGap project?
RIM has been quite involved with PhoneGap. The RIM development team recently signed a contributor agreement to the project and provided most of the PhoneGap tools for the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet, which we’re working to get into the PhoneGap repository for BlackBerry. In terms of tools, the Ripple Emulator by RIM is specifically for HTML5 mobile app testing, and it was one of the earliest tools to have PhoneGap’s work built into it.

What level of support have you received from the RIM development team?
We’ve had great support from all the team members at RIM. We keep in contact with a lot of them through Twitter® and email. If we’re having issues or if a PhoneGap user on the BlackBerry side has a question, we CC the RIM team and the support rolls out really quickly. RIM also has a seeding program for future BlackBerry smartphones that is hugely beneficial, since it allows us to test all of the devices and operating systems before they come to market. We don’t have that kind of relationship with any other vendor or manufacturer out there. Nitobi has also filled out a contributor agreement for the BlackBerry repository.

Thanks for this interview, Andre and Michael! Developer community – do you have any feedback on Nitobi’s BlackBerry development tools? Let us know in the comments.

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