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Are there cross-platform issues with developing Android web apps?

 
Daniel Trebbien
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I recently read a blog post by Joe Bowser (one of the PhoneGap maintainers) from January 14, 2011, that was titled Android: Your JS Engine is not always V8. I found it interesting because I was under the impression that the WebKit implementation and Javascript engine that are behind WebView would be standard across Android devices running the same Android API level.

Damon and/or S├ębastien: In your experience developing Android web apps, have you ever encountered cross-platform issues, either as a result of different API levels or different builds of WebKit?
 
Monu Tripathi
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Android Eclipse IDE Java
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Thanks for sharing the link!
 
Sebastien Blanc
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There are some minor difference between the webkit engine depending the API version you are using (1.5, 2.1, 2.2) but the code shown is the book is cross-api compatible, there some exceptions but which are explained in notes.
 
Damon Oehlman
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Daniel,

I've absolutely encountered differences, both in terms of Javascript performance and the nuances around how particular aspects of an application or library behave. I would say that in the book, most of what we do in the book stays within the "safe bounds" of cross-device mobile web app development, but certainly in my own experience developing a cross-platform HTML5 mapping library I have found quite a few things.

In the book itself, Chapter 7 works through some samples using the HTML5 Canvas and touch events, and both of these are those will probably cause you the most pain as you strive for a cross-platform (which includes dealing with the differences within Android itself) mobile web app solution. In many ways though, you are still better off going this way than developing a purely native application as with the web approach you end up having to tailor and tweak 20% of your code for a specific platform, whereas a native app would probably require a ground up build to target different devices.

I have to say I understand what Joe is saying when he makes this comment in his closing remarks (with reference to a bug that is present in the Android 2.3 SDK):

This is a REALLY bad thing, since it makes web development on Android even more frustrating, and will chase developers away from that platform.


I genuinely hope that this doesn't happen, but it's a genuine risk. The good news is that if you target Android first in your mobile web app development process, then the other platforms actually almost "just work".

Cheers,
Damon.

 
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