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JQuery and PhoneGap rule for mobile web app development

Posted by Alan Zeichick on Aug 28, 2012

A new study from Mozilla shows some fascinating data.



Some of the results mean more than others. For example, according to the study, more app developers are targeting the Web than, say, iOS and or Android. Maybe that's broadly true, or perhaps that's what you'd expect from Mozilla developers. (The Mozilla Foundation is the organization behind the Firefox browser.)

Let's look at some of the results from this study, published last week.

Starting with libraries, jQuery ran away from the pack:

 

jQuery             74%

jQuery Mobile            51%

Zepto.js           20%

Sencha touch 15%

JQTouch         10%

XUI.js               4%

Mootools mobile                   16        3%

Sproutcore     2%

Lime.js            2%

JO                    1%

M project        0%

Nimblekit        0%

Wink               0%

Uxebu Bikeshed        0%

 

This correlates with my own informal findings from conversations with developers, who are find the jQuery JavaScript library to be fast, easy to code and versatile for all sorts of transaction-oriented applications. If you're not using jQuery, you should be — or you should at least be considering it.

I have a lot less experience with jQuery Mobile, which is a newer HTML5-based library that supports iOS, Android, Windows Phone and others. But clearly, it's got traction. If you use jQuery Mobile, I'd love to get your comments about it -- why you like it, what you think needs to be improved.

The Mozilla also showed that PhoneGap is the clear leader in terms of conversation frameworks -- that is, it's a wrapper that takes your HTML, CSS and JavaScript code and makes it run as a "native" app on iOS, Android, Windows Phone, etc. Appcelerator is the distant number two.

 

PhoneGap          90%

Appcellerator            14%

MoSync                       1%

 

I was most surprised by the question, "Do you test on non-WebKit browsers?" The majority, 71%, said "yes." But fully 29% said "no."

Unless you are truly targeting only a specific mobile platforms (like the iPhone/iPad or Android devices), it's foolish to create Web applications and only test on a subset of HTML layout engines.

Of course, WebKit is popular -- it's the foundation of Apple's Safari and Google's Chrome, after all. But Firefox and Internet Explorer don't use WebKit -- they use Mozilla's Gecko and Microsoft's Trident/MSHTML layout engines, respectively. If you care about the desktop, ignore them at your peril.

 According to the Mozilla survey, only 24% of the folks who said they only test for WebKit cited that it because they were developing for fixed platforms. That's totally understandable. If you're building for iPad, you only need to test on iPad.

However, the biggest group of WebKit-only testers -- 55% -- said "lack of time to support more browser platforms." And 42% said, "lack of incentive -- I don't know what the benefit of supporting more is."

Ugh. How short-sighted is that?

TAGS:

jQuery, mobile web development, PhoneGap


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