Cordova Tutorial: Learn Cordova for Android & iOS
In this step by step Cordova tutorial, for beginners you are going to learn how to build a cross platform mobile application for Android or/and iOS (and even UWP) from scratch.
But first of all, let's start with an overview of Cordova.
So what is Cordova and what it can do for you?
Many developers ask, what is the difference between a responsive web app and a mobile app,the key differences are:
A mobile app can be distributed from the app store where responsive web apps are delivered from a web server.
Also a mobile app has access to native device features where web apps can not (well they can use the HTML5 API for acessing some features such as Camera and Geolocation with user permission) or have very limited access.
So if you app needs one of these two requirements then you can use Apache Cordova to build it or convert your responsive web app to a mobile app very easilly.
What you need to know?
On the section, we have introduced Cordova and we have said that It's an open source platform or tool for building hybrid and cross platform mobile apps using the web technologies you are already familiar with them if you are a front end web developer
Even worst than that, you need to learn the three languages and their mobile related SDKs if you want to build apps to target Android,iOS and Windows Universal Platform
But don't forget, depending on your app requirements sometimes you'll be obliged to use native platforms languages for example for apps that has extensive use of GPU or CPU.
Now enough theory about Cordova. Let's see get started!
What you will learn?
- How to generate a Cordova project using the Apache Cordova CLI
- How to store data with a SQLITE database
- How to access and use some important native features such as the Camera, The Geolocation and Contacts list.
- How to handle mobile related tasks such as scrolling and touch events.
- How to use Angular and Bootstrap for respectively code structure and UI styling.
You need to have Node.js and NPM installed so you can install and use the Cordova CLI
If you want to build your app for Android, you need to have Java and the Android SDK installed on your system.
If you want to build for iOS, you need to have a MAC system and Xcode installed.
For development you can create your app and test it on the browser without any platform requirement (except for Nodejs)
But for testing native features you need a real device attached to your computer with an USB cable.
Before we start ,make sure you have both Node.js and NPM installed because just like any awesome tool these days, Cordova is based on Node.js and can be installed via NPM
In case you don't have Node.js installed on your system ,you can go to the official Node.js website and grab the Nodejs installer for your system.
Now let's install Cordova.
Open your terminal under Linux / MAC or your command prompt /power shell under Windows and run the following command to install Cordova via NPM:
npm install -g cordova
On some systems (MAC) you need to add sudo to be able to install cordova globally:
sudo npm install -g cordova
Next navigate to your chosen working directory:
Then enter the following command to scaffold a new Cordova project using the installed Cordova CLI:
cordova create app com.techiediaries.hello myApp
The first argument is the name of your project folder.
The second argument is the package name, make sure it is unique.
The third argument is the name of your app.
For now, we are going to test our project on the browser so we need to add the browser platform:
cd app cordova platform add browser
Next just serve your app with:
You should be able to visit your app by going to http://localhost:8000
Since you have added nothing to your project. If you visit your app you will just see a bunch of meta information about your project such as the package name, supported platforms and added plugins.
Building Cordova project for Android
Now to build your project to target Android you need to add the Android platform with:
cordova platform add android
Make sure you have installed Java and Android SDK and make sure you have ANDROID_HOME environment variable set to your Android SDK location.
Now let's build our app.
Again use your terminal or command prompt to run:
cordova build android
If you have an emulator installed on your system, you can easilly emulate your app with:
cordova emulate android
If you want to test on a real device ,use an USB cable to attache your mobile device to your machine and then run the following command:
cordova run android
Building Cordova project for iOS
Before you can build for iOS you need a MAC system with Xcode IDE. If you fulfill the requirement then just open up your terminal and enter:
cordova build ios
For emulating your app run
cordova emulate ios
For running your app on a real device enter
cordova run ios
That is the end of this section, we have seen how to install the Cordova CLI and what requirements you need to have either to install the CLI or to build your project for target platforms.
We have also seen how to build, emulate and run your Cordova project on Android and iOS and how to test the Cordova app on the browser by adding the browser platform and execute cordova serve.
See you on the next post where we are going to see how to access and use some key native features of mobile devices with Cordova such as the Camera, the Geolocation API and the contacts list etc.
We are going also to see how to use Bootstrap to style our app and Angular framework to handle business logic for our application.
Then how to handle scrolling and touch events.