Create a PhoneGap/Cordova Project

If you have everything set up right, then you should be able to go to the command prompt and run create.

As you know, in my system create is in:


On computers where you don’t have rights to the root of the C drive, you might try something like this:


But regardless of where you put the program, you should be able to run it from any directory since it is now on your path.

Here is how to run the create program:

create C:\Temp\Cordova03 com.elvenware.cordova03 Cordova03

This command tells create to build a Cordova project and put in a folder called C:\Temp\Cordova03. The program will create the folder for you. It will set up your program to run in the com.elvenware.cordova03 namespace. The name of the project it creates will be Cordova03. This command creates a fully functional, ready to use instance of a Cordova project.

Notice that I am putting the project in a temp directory. Assuming that you are using Eclipse, the next step will be to copy it into our Eclipse workspace. If you are not using Eclipse, then you can the project from the temp directory or move it to someplace more useful.

To import the project in to Eclipse, choose File | Import | Android | Existing Android Code into Workspace

Browse to your project. Select the Copy Projects into workspaceoption. Click OK. Now you should see your project in the Eclipse Project Manager. You can run it by right clicking, and choosing Run As | Android Application.

Because you will be giving the command to create a project so often, it helps to automate the process. Here is a batch file for running create. To run it, you will need to be sure you have your [PHONEGAP]\lib\android\bin directory on your path, as described above. Here is the batch file:

set Project=Cordova03
set ProjectSmall=cordova03
create C:\Temp\%Project% com.elvenware.%ProjectSmall% %Project%

Please see this text on running batch files from NotePad++:

NOTE: It seems like Mac users should be able to create your project in your workspace, and then just import it without the Copy Projects into workspace option. This does not, however, seem to work on a PC, which is why we create the project in a temp directory, and then import it.

Running an PhoneGap/Cordova Project from Eclipse

Once you have created the project, you need to import it by selecting File | Import. Now use the Android | Existing Android Code into Workspace option to browse for the root directory of your new PhoneGap project. After importing the project it should be visible in the Project Explorer. If the Project Explorer is not visible, choose Window | Show View | Project Explorer from the menu.

Plug in your Android device, start an Android X86 instance in VirtualBox, or start the Emulator. You have to have the developer options turned on for your device before you can use it for development. There are multiple ways to set up the developer options on an Android device, so I’ll ask that you perform an Internet search to find the technique used for your device. There are other, lengthy, sections of this Elvenware site that describe how to set up Android x86 in VirtualBox.

The emulator tends to be monumentally slow, but it is probably the easiest option to setup. To start the emulator:

  • From the Eclipse menu, choose Window | Android Virtual Device Manager.
  • Choose the emulated Android device you want to run, and press the Start… button.
  • If there is no device available to run choose New.
  • Fill in the AVD name with a name of your choice, ie: MyAvd.
  • Pick a device. For instance, 7.0” WSVGA (Tablet) (1024X600: mdpi).
  • Click OK. The device will take a long time to load, but it should indeed come up in 1 to 5 minutes. Once you have it open, don’t close it until you are done, as the launch time is the longest step in the process.

To Run the project:

  • Make sure you have plugged in a device or started the Emulator
  • Go back to the main window of the IDE. Select the top node for your project in the Project Manager or similar tool. The top node for your project is the node where you can see your project name. At this early stage, your project will probably have a name like CordovaExample, Cordova or Cordova01.
  • Right click and choose Run as | Android Application. If all is working right, your project should appear in the emulator after about a 1 minute delay.

Customize the Cordova Create Script

Go to your [dev]/[PhoneGap]/lib/android/bin/templates/project directory.

For instance, here is the path on my system:


Back up the Assets directory. Make sure you have all your environment variables set up as described above, and then run either of the batch files found in the root of this zip file:


(If you are on the Mac, or Linux, for now you can just delete the existing Assets folder, and copy one of the new ones into the place where you made the deletion.

If you open up the zip file you will find that I am simply replacing the index.html, index.js, and index.css files with custom files set up the way I prefer to see them. You will, I’m sure, want to implement changes of your own. Once you see how the system works, you will probably find it easy to modify these to create the effects you prefer. Notice that I delete a number of the files that come with the default package. That is why I suggest that you back up the original content before you delete it. You can, of course, download a new copy of the original PhoneGap templates at any time from the PhoneGap site.

PhoneGap Build

This cloud based service will take your HTML, CSS and JavaScript wrapped up in a zip file and return verisons for Apple iOS, Android, Palm, Symbian, and Blackberry. It is all done in the cloud. Right now the service is free, but it will cost more when they get out of beta.

The Key Steps in Setting up Your Project


  1. Set up Eclipse as you would for normal Android developmen: Eclipse Classic, Androids SDK, ADT
  2. Create a standard Android Project
  3. Ceate libs, xml and /assets/www folders and add
    1. assets/www/phonegap.js,
    2. lib/phonegap.jar,
    3. res/xml/plugins.xml and res/xml/phonegap.xml
  4. Edit manifest and
  5. Create assets/www/index.html

Python Scripts to Automate Android to PhoneGap Conversion

There are several solutions to this problem, but I have written some scripts that help me convert Android applications to PhoneGap. To get started, first be sure that you have installed Python. You might also want to install PyDev, which is a Python development environment in the form of an add on to Eclipse. An alternative would be to install Aptana, which is a version of Eclipse that comes with PyDev built-in.

After installing Python, you should download the two zip files shown below. The first contains the scripts that convert the project, the second contains the core parts of the PhoneGap tools that need to be included in your PhoneGap projects. The scripts should work on Windows, Linux and the Mac.

  • Unzip both projects into your current Eclipse workspace where you want to work on PhoneGap projects.
  • From the Eclipse menu, choose File | Import | General | Existing Projects into Workspace.Click Next.
  • Click the Browse button and select the PythonPhoneGapfolder. This will import my scripts into Eclipse.
  • Open AndroidToPhoneGap and edit the destDir and srcDir fields to match the paths on your system.

When you are done, the destDir and srcDir fields might look like this, assuming your workspace is in J:\src\PhoneGap/. Note that the # sign is a comment in Python, and that we use forward slashes rather than back slashes, and that we include a trailing slash at the end of each line:

# Here is an Android project to be converted
destDir = "J:/src/PhoneGap/PhoneGap03/"
# Here is where the files from PhoneGap live

HTML 5 vs Android

HTML 5 Advantages

There are many platforms out there, and targeting HTML 5 gets you to all platforms at once. The idea is to have one platform to target all these devices. Most of the modern phones use WebKit, which fully supports HTML 5.

  • HTML 5 is available for mobile
  • HTML 5 is able to build powerful applications
  • HTML 5 is open and cross platform

You can embed web apps inside native apps. People don’t want to have to open a browser to open a web app.

HTML 5 is really HTML 5, CSS and JavaScript. It doesn’t all work on all platforms, but it works in a wide variety of locations. Graceful degradation helps you work with this problem, in particular because things that are not supported are just ignored.

HTML5 is fluid. It stretches and morphs on different screens even if you don’t write platform specific code.

HTML 5 is compelling because it supports:

  • Geolocation, such as getCurrentPosition. (navigator.geolocation.getCurrentPosition.
  • Multitouch
  • Device orientation
  • Speech recognition is available on Chrome and access to device API’s like the camera.
  • Canvas and WebGL
  • Video and audio is possible
  • Ajax and XMLHttpRequest allows us to access the web and share resources
  • Offline application cache and offline storage with application cache.
  • And of course it is open, cross platform, and everyone knows it.
  • It has great libraries and tools, JQuiery MootTOols, YUI, Closure. Chrome Developer TOols, Firebug, Page Speed.

Native Android Apps

Can be built with Dalvik and Java, or C++, or RenderScript for graphics code. You also have access to Python. These are all Android specific tools.

Native apps are good:

  • Richer look and feel
  • Better integration with the hardware and OS, and hardware keeps changing faster than HTML5 can keep up.
  • You have more speed, power, control and integration
  • Devices are naturally, small, resource constrained, and underpowered, so you want to get every advantage possible.
  • Standards like HTML5 have to trail the hardware. New sensors, new hardware, show up in native apps.
  • Each app is part of the ecosystem, you can replace any part of the OS, including hte home screen, with a native app. It hooks right into to system messages and requests. You can run in the background, getting updates when they come in, or going quiet when not needed, and being woken up when needed. There is very full offline support.
  • You have features like Widgets, Live Allpapers, rich notifications, lots of things that you can’t do with HTML.

The point here is that there are great features in HTML 5, and great features in native applications. Perhaps you should build a web app for everyone, and then build a native app for successful platorms.

With WebViews you can get a bit of both worlds, have a native app that leverages your HTML5 code.

Some powerful tools, Sproutcore, Sencha touch, jquery mobile, jo, iUI, Modernizr, Polyfills

  • HTML5 calls native: WebView.addJavaScriptInterface(new BarameterReader(), “barometer”)
  • Native calls HTML5: loadURL(“javascript: updateScore(“+score+”);”);
  • Chrome has the idea of background apps. So you can run an HTML5 in the background, but it uses a lot of battery, but they can sleep and wait to be worken up.

Using the jQuery ajax Command in PhoneGap

If you use jQuery ajax,or related calls in a PhoneGap application, if you try to use LocalHost in your URL, you are asking to reach the web server of the Android operating system that your application is hosted on. In most cases, there will be no web server on that Phone/OS, and so you will just get an error. If there were a WebServer on the device, it would still likely fail, because your database, data and scripts are probably not on the phone, but back on your web server.

The important thing to grasp here is that an Android emulator or VirtualBox running Android x86 is, for all intents and purposes the same thing as a phone. It is a separate operating system, a separate device from the copy of Windows, Mac, or Linux that is hosting it. That’s what we mean by a virtual machine: it is a virtual computer/phone/device hosted by your main OS. It thinks its running on its own device, and so does your web server.

To make things work, you need to create a URL that can be reached from your virtual device, from a real phone. The first thing to test is whether the URL can be reached from the Browser on your computer. As a rule, if the URL does not work on your browser, then it won’t work in the virtual device or in a real phone. Remember that you can simulate passing parameters in a URL when testing in the browser:


You don’t use the part after the question mark in your PhoneGap program, but you do in your test URL that you run in the browser.

Of course the URL above won’t work in the phone, because it references localhost. You need to use the Windows command line utility ipconfig to get the actual IP address of your machine. In my case, it is

An address like that should work in an emulator, in VirtualBox or on your phone. If it does not, that means you don’t have your FireWall set up correctly as explained here:


Download Apache Ant:

Read how to install it:


Check the following. Go to the command prompt and confirm that you can run:

  • ant from \ant\bin. Is JAVA_HOME setup? is ANT_HOME set up? Is%ANT_HOME%\bin on your path?
  • adbfrom \androidsdk\platform-tools
  • create from \phonegap\lib\android\bin

You should be able to type java -version and get reasonable output. Make sure that javac.exe is on your path. This usually means putting \jdk\bin on your path.