Quick Start On Apache Cordova Using Visual Studio 2015

What is Apache Cordova?

Apache Cordova is platform that is used for building mobile apps using HTML, CSS and JS. We can think of Cordova as a container for connecting our web app with native mobile functionalities. Web applications cannot use native mobile functionalities by default. This is where Cordova comes in. It offers a bridge for connection between web apps and mobile devices.

By using Cordova we can make hybrid mobile apps that can use camera, geolocation, file system and other native mobile functions. Apache Cordova is an Open Source project, that aims at letting mobile developers build applications for all major mobile platforms using HTML5 technologies.

Apache Cordova is available for the following platforms: iOS, Android, Blackberry, Windows Phone, Palm WebOS, Bada, and Symbian.

Who will use Apache Cordova?

  • The User interface for Apache Cordova applications is created using HTML, CSS and JavaScript. It's a free, open source framework for building cross platform native applications using HTML5.
  • It's a write-once, run-anywhere solution specifically designed for mobile.
  • Those who know HTML, know they can easily develop the Cross platform Mobile Apps.
  • Apache Cordova is very simple to create and use. It doesn't require deep technical knowledge or programming skills. So Students or Mobile App development beginners can very easily develop their apps through Apache Cordova.

When do we use Apache Cordova?

Use Apache Cordova if you are:

  • a mobile developer and want to extend an application across more than one platform, without having to re-implement it with each platform's language and tool set.
  • a web developer and want to deploy a web app that's packaged for distribution in various app store portals.
  • a mobile developer interested in mixing native application components with a WebView (special browser window) that can access device-level APIs, or if you want to develop a plugin interface between native and WebView components.
  • learning about HTML, CSS and JavaScript we can use Apache Cordova. We can develop the cross-platform App using Apache Cordova
  • a beginner or have fewer programming skills for App development, we can use Apache Cordova. We can easily build the App.

Why do we use Apache Cordova?

Apache Cordova’s architecture is extendable, built around a plugin model. Anyone can create their own additional functionality for Cordova and publish it as a plugin. There are several components to a Cordova application.

The following diagram shows a high-level view of the Cordova Application Architecture.

Cordova

Cordova Features

  • Command Line Interface (Cordova CLI)
    This is the tool that can be used for starting the projects, building processes for different platforms, installing plugins and lots of other useful things that make the development process easier.
  • Cordova Core Components
    Cordova offers a set of core components that every mobile application needs. These components will be used for creating the base of the app so we can spend more time to implement our own logic.
  • Cordova Plugins
    Cordova offers API that will be used for implementing native mobile functions to our JavaScript app.

Cordova Advantages

  • Cordova offers one platform for building hybrid mobile apps so we can develop one app that will be used on different mobile platforms including IOS, Android, Windows Phone, Amazon, Blackberry, Firefox OS, Ubuntu and tizien.
  • It is faster to develop hybrid apps than native apps so Cordova can save a lot of development time
  • Since we are using JavaScript when working with Cordova, we don't need to learn platform specific programming languages.
  • There are huge amounts of community addons that can be used with Cordova. Lots of libraries and frameworks are optimized for working with it.

Limitations

  • Hybrid apps are slower than native ones so it is not optimal to use Cordova for large apps that require lots of data and functionality.
  • Cross browser compatibility can create lots of issues. Most of the time we are building apps for different platforms so the testing and optimizing can take lot of time since we need to cover a large number of devices and operating systems.
  • Some plugins have compatibility issues with different devices and platforms. There are also some native APIs that aren't yet supported by Cordova.

Developer Requirements

  • Any HTML &JS Editor
  • Platform SDK - Android SDK(for Android), XCode(for IOS), Visual Studio



  • Platform Emulator (usally provide along with SDK)
  • Browser – Firefox, Chrome.
  • Visual Studio 2015
  • Visual Studio Tools for Apache Cordova.

How do I install Apache Cordova?

Use the Visual Studio Tools for Apache Cordova to build apps that run-on iOS, Android, and Windows devices.

To use these tools, choose the Apache Cordova feature when you install Visual Studio. If you've installed Visual Studio already, you can always add the feature later. You'll need a computer that runs Windows 8, Windows 8.1, Windows 10, or Windows Server 2012 R2.

You need the following things.

Method 1

Choose the Apache Cordova feature when you install Visual Studio

  1. In the Visual Studio installer, choose the Custom option, and then select the HTML/JavaScript (Apache Cordova) feature.

    Cordova

Method 2

Add the Apache Cordova feature after you install Visual Studio, If you've already installed Visual Studio, just modify it to include the tools.

  1. Open Control Panel -> Programs and Features, choose the Visual Studio 2015 item, and then choose the Change button.



  2. In the setup wizard for Visual Studio, choose the Modify button.
  3. In the list of optional features to install, select the HTML/JavaScript (Apache Cordova) checkbox, choose the Next button, and then choose the Update button.


Visual Studio installs all of the third-party components that you need to build your app. 

Cordova

How do we build Apache Cordova Apps?

 You can start building Mobile using Apache Cordova.

Now let's get started with the following steps.

Step 1

Create a Project


Open Visual Studio 2015 and Click File -> New -> Project Option for New Apache Cordova App.

Cordova

Step 2

Giving the Project Name


Then, a New Project Window will open, there you can select an Installed -> Template -> Java Script -> Apache Cordova Apps -> Blank App (Apache Cordova).

Type Project Name CordovaApp and click the OK button

Cordova

Step 3

Solution Bar

After we create the project, our solution should resemble the following.

Cordova

This table gives the basic idea of how we might use each one.

 File   Why is it in your project?
 bower.json  This file manages the Bower packages dependencies of our app.
 build.json  This file contains parameters that Visual Studio uses to build a signed Android package.
 config.xml  Contains the settings of our app.
 taco.json  Defines which version of the Cordova CLI Visual Studio uses to build the project.

Step 4

Run the Application

Now we are ready to run our Project, So Click the Ripple – Nexus (Galaxy) for running the Application. (Apache Ripple is a free mobile simulator).

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Output 1

Run on Nexus Galaxy

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Output 2

Android

We can also run our app in Android, iOS, and Windows device emulators. To see them all, choose any platform from the platform list on the Standard toolbar.

Cordova

Conclusion

I hope you understood how to create an Apache Cordova App using Visual Studio and run it.