Shazron's Cordova (aka PhoneGap) Blog

at Adobe Systems Inc.

Archive for July 2012

Improvements in Cordova 2.0.0 for iOS

with 45 comments

With the release of Apache Cordova 2.0.0 there are some significant changes for the iOS platform. We’ve removed the problematic Xcode templates, and updated our support to iOS 4.2 and greater only. Support for ARC (Automatic Reference Counting) was planned but pushed to a later release (tentatively scheduled for 2.1.0).

1. Removal of the Xcode Templates

Initially we had Xcode 3 template support, so when Xcode 4 rolled in, we updated our templates to support Xcode 4. However, because of Xcode 4’s template limitations, this resulted in a poor user experience when first creating a new Cordova-based Application. The Xcode 4 template format is undocumented – we couldn’t add a folder reference nor add a sub-project, so we had to include a pre-built Cordova.framework and also make the developer copy in the www folder manually.

A developer had to:

  1. Build once to copy in the “www” folder (from the Cordova.framework) into their project folder on disk
  2. Locate the “www” folder in their project folder on disk
  3. Drag in the “www” folder to their project icon in Xcode

This was very error-prone and did not lead to a good “first-run” user experience. Shipping a pre-built binary (Cordova.framework) also causes problems for certain systems (unreproducible crashes with Reachability) and problems with the inability to debug errors in the Cordova library itself.

The Xcode templates have been replaced by our new command-line utility to create a new project.

2. Create a new Cordova-based Application project from the command line

Install Cordova-2.0.0.pkg and then follow the Getting Started Guide, then see the procedure at docs.phonegap.com

Consult this blog post “PhoneGap 2.0 Getting Started” as well for any errors you encounter.

This template creation method eliminates all the problems with the Xcode 4 template. Create the new project, and you are ready to go immediately. Your new project also links in CordovaLib as a sub-project now, so you have access to the Cordova source code for debugging if you need to.

Moving to a command-line interface also allows for greater flexibility in tooling and packaging.

3. Debug, emulate and view the console log of your Cordova project from the command line

When you create a new Cordova-based application project, you will notice that there is a new “cordova” folder included in your project folder. In there, there are three scripts: debug, emulate and log.

Navigate to the cordova folder from Terminal.app, and you can type the appropriate commands to use these scripts. Using these scripts, you will never need to launch Xcode again. Details on what these scripts do are at docs.phonegap.com

4. Support of iOS 4.2 and greater only (and drop iOS 3 support)

What iOS 4 allows Cordova developers to do now is to include the usage of blocks in their plugins. Also, the iOS SDK API is switching to using blocks in most of the framework APIs, and it would be great for Cordova plugins to take advantage of them. JavaScript developers will be familiar with the power of using blocks, they are similar to how they are used in JavaScript (closures and callbacks).

Also, iOS 4.2 specifically has built-in support in JavaScript for WebSockets, the DeviceOrientation API (accelerometer, gyroscope), new JavaScript data types, XHR-2 support, and others. See this blog post for more details.

5. Xcode 4 and Lion & Mountain Lion support only

Some developers are still using Snow Leopard (10.6) – which only has Xcode 4.2 (iOS 5.0 SDK). With the upcoming release of the iOS 6 SDK, there doesn’t seem to be any Snow Leopard support for it. A SDK release is always coupled with a version of Xcode, and all the newer versions of Xcode are for Lion (10.7) and Mountain Lion (10.8) only. The Apple App Store will only accept apps that are built using the latest version of the iOS SDK. When iOS 6 is released, this will preclude Snow Leopard (10.6).

Next steps:

Currently there is still a GUI based installer that installs CordovaLib into your home folder’s Documents sub-folder, and it also updates the $(CORDOVALIB) Xcode variable. The GUI installer will be removed in a future release, and installation will be through the command-line as well. This will allow us to version and package Cordova iOS through homebrew, for example.

Written by shazron

July 20, 2012 at 6:38 am

Posted in cordova, phonegap, xcode

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