Welcome!

Eclipse Authors: Cynthia Dunlop, Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White, XebiaLabs Blog, Ken Fogel

Blog Feed Post

HTML5 and the Future of PhoneGap and WebView+

By Peter Rogers, Principal Architect, Mobility, Cognizant

HTML5 is still one of the most discussed topics amongst us technical types.  The key challenge, however, has remained unanswered for a long time. How do you effectively wrap HTML5 for use in native mobile applications? Unfortunately I do not have a universal answer, but I do have a solution for Android.

Firstly, I recommend looking into the use of Vellamo in order to benchmark the performance of HTML5 on Android (http://www.quicinc.com/vellamo/).  Vellamo is designed to be an accurate, easy to use suite of system-level benchmarks for devices based on Android 2.3 forward. Vellamo began as a mobile web benchmarking tool that today has expanded to include two primary chapters: the HTML5 chapter evaluates mobile web browser performance; and the Metal Chapter measures the CPU subsystem performance of mobile processors.

I have my own custom architecture that extends RESS (Responsive Design + Server Side Components) called P-RESS (Performance RESS). The idea is to include performance based information inside the device family configurations. This means that an HTML5 based mobile client can query the RESS server to ask about the performance characteristics of its device family. This can be used to downgrade the graphical experience, for example removing a parallax scrolling background.

The big problem up until recently was that wrapping HTML5 into a WebView on Android meant that you had to use the default web browser, which unfortunately was not Chrome. Instead you ended up with the Android Stock Browser, which was a long way from Chrome. With Android 4.4 (KitKat) we now have the ability to use the Chrome browser through the WebView by default and this is very much welcome (https://developers.google.com/chrome/mobile/docs/webview/overview#what_version_of_chrome_is_it_based_on).

There are two downsides to this effort though:
  1. It only works on Android 4.4
  2. The WebView shipped does not have full feature parity with Chrome for Android (it is based on Chrome 30 as opposed to Chrome 33)
This means that the following features are not available:
  • WebGL (3D canvas)
  • WebRTC
  • WebAudio
  • Fullscreen API
  • Form validation
There have been a number of open source efforts to deliver a Chrome WebView that works across Android 4 and now it appears two companies have started to offer their own versions: Famo.us (http://www.infoworld.com/t/mobile-development/famous-were-building-better-phonegap-236267); and Ludei (http://support.ludei.com/hc/en-us/articles/201952993).

There is a subtle difference in marketing though: Famo.us claim to be building a better PhoneGap; whereas Ludei claim to be building something that is PhoneGap compatible. Both systems bundle the latest edition of the Blink engine (Chrome 33) with the App using a Cloud based build system. The two companies also have cool demos of WebGL running through a WebView on various Android 4 devices. This also means that when Chrome 34 arrives then it is presumed that could be bundled instead – depending on backward compatibility with earlier versions of Android 4.

Famo.us actually answer one of the key questions. Does each app have its own separately bundled edition of Chrome? Each time a Famo.us app needs a particular version of Chrome, that version is installed in such a way that other apps that need it can also use it – think shared libraries. At the moment the footprint for Chrome 33 is around 15-20MB but they predict the size will come down to 10MB. They can also have it not be part of the initial download of the app, but rather as an app upgrade.

It is unclear if Ludei will offer a similar shared library system at this time. One thing Ludei do mention is the increased portability and performance that WebView+ (as they call it) brings to the web environment. Ludei used to only offer support for games but just recently they added application support as well and this is when I really took notice of CocoonJS.

With one consistent HTML5 environment then it means the developers know the feature set to code towards. It becomes a sort of HTML5 Reference Implementation for Android. The minor downside is this only covers Android 4 and above. The major downside is this only covers Android. There is no way of bundling the latest version of Safari with an App on iOS and Windows 8 is even more problematic.

The other thing that Ludei and indeed Intel XDK offer is technology that cross-compiles HTML5 Canvas into OpenGL(ES) for Android or iOS. That means that if you are wrapping an HTML5 Canvas into a Native App then it makes far more sense to cross-compile it into Android or iOS native code. Ludei claims to have the fastest accelerated HTML5 Canvas, but Intel acquired similar technology from AppMobi.  When Web Components become more widely supported then it would appear to be the next candidate technology to be cross-compiled into native code.

Oracle offers ADF Mobile which combines a Java VM with an HTML5 presentation tier, the benefit being totally portable plug-in extensions. Unfortunately when I looked into the solution there was no backward compatibility with existing PhoneGap plug-ins. Ludei has been clever here and made sure that PhoneGap plug-ins are explicitly supported and I am sure Famo.us will follow.

I had a chat with the W3C recently and asked if there was likely to be any standardisation in the following spaces:
  1. Control over hardware acceleration
  2. Mixing native code and HTML5
  3. Pure HTML5 deployable Apps
The answer was that only the latter is being standardised and they are not seeing much uptake outside of Firefox OS. The manifest specification is being thoroughly updated through and this will see improvements to both HTML5 Cache Manifest and its future replacement called ServiceWorkers – all to be discussed in my next Blog (‘The future of HTML5’).  They also told me that the Windows 8 App Store allows you to host pure HTML5 applications.

This means that outside of standardisation, we are going to need to be looking at a new gold standard for HTML5 based Hybrid Apps as follows:
  • A Chrome 33/34 WebView for advanced performance, feature set and portability
  • An HTML5 Canvas to OpenGL(ES) conversion for Native Apps
  • PhoneGap backwardly compatible for existing plug-ins
These are Peter Roger's personal observations and opinions and don't necessarily represent his employers.  You can contact Peter Rogers directly at [email protected].

*************************************************************
Kevin Benedict
Senior Analyst, Digital Transformation Cognizant
View my profile on LinkedIn
Learn about mobile strategies at MobileEnterpriseStrategies.com
Follow me on Twitter @krbenedict
Join the Linkedin Group Strategic Enterprise Mobility
Join the Google+ Community Mobile Enterprise Strategies

***Full Disclosure: These are my personal opinions. No company is silly enough to claim them. I am a mobility and digital transformation analyst, consultant and writer. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Kevin Benedict

Kevin Benedict is an opinionated Senior Analyst at Cognizant's Center for the Future of Work, SAP Mentor Alumnus, speaker, writer, and mobile and digital strategies expert. He is a popular keynote speaker, and in the past three years he has shared his insights into mobile and digital strategies with companies in 17 different countries. He has over 30 years of experience working with enterprise applications, and he is a veteran mobile industry executive. He wrote the Forward to SAP Press' bestselling book on enterprise mobility titled Mobilizing Your Enterprise with SAP, and he has written over 3,000 articles.

@ThingsExpo Stories
If you’re responsible for an application that depends on the data or functionality of various IoT endpoints – either sensors or devices – your brand reputation depends on the security, reliability, and compliance of its many integrated parts. If your application fails to deliver the expected business results, your customers and partners won't care if that failure stems from the code you developed or from a component that you integrated. What can you do to ensure that the endpoints work as expect...
Data is an unusual currency; it is not restricted by the same transactional limitations as money or people. In fact, the more that you leverage your data across multiple business use cases, the more valuable it becomes to the organization. And the same can be said about the organization’s analytics. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Bill Schmarzo, CTO for the Big Data Practice at EMC, will introduce a methodology for capturing, enriching and sharing data (and analytics) across the organizati...
The vision of a connected smart home is becoming reality with the application of integrated wireless technologies in devices and appliances. The use of standardized and TCP/IP networked wireless technologies in line-powered and battery operated sensors and controls has led to the adoption of radios in the 2.4GHz band, including Wi-Fi, BT/BLE and 802.15.4 applied ZigBee and Thread. This is driving the need for robust wireless coexistence for multiple radios to ensure throughput performance and th...
Information technology is an industry that has always experienced change, and the dramatic change sweeping across the industry today could not be truthfully described as the first time we've seen such widespread change impacting customer investments. However, the rate of the change, and the potential outcomes from today's digital transformation has the distinct potential to separate the industry into two camps: Organizations that see the change coming, embrace it, and successful leverage it; and...
I'm a lonely sensor. I spend all day telling the world how I'm feeling, but none of the other sensors seem to care. I want to be connected. I want to build relationships with other sensors to be more useful for my human. I want my human to understand that when my friends next door are too hot for a while, I'll soon be flaming. And when all my friends go outside without me, I may be left behind. Don't just log my data; use the relationship graph. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Ryan Boyd, Engi...
The Internet of Things can drive efficiency for airlines and airports. In their session at @ThingsExpo, Shyam Varan Nath, Principal Architect with GE, and Sudip Majumder, senior director of development at Oracle, will discuss the technical details of the connected airline baggage and related social media solutions. These IoT applications will enhance travelers' journey experience and drive efficiency for the airlines and the airports. The session will include a working demo and a technical d...
SYS-CON Events announced today that China Unicom will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. China United Network Communications Group Co. Ltd ("China Unicom") was officially established in 2009 on the basis of the merger of former China Netcom and former China Unicom. China Unicom mainly operates a full range of telecommunications services including mobile broadband (GSM, WCDMA, LTE F...
Enterprise IT has been in the era of Hybrid Cloud for some time now. But it seems most conversations about Hybrid are focused on integrating AWS, Microsoft Azure, or Google ECM into existing on-premises systems. Where is all the Private Cloud? What do technology providers need to do to make their offerings more compelling? How should enterprise IT executives and buyers define their focus, needs, and roadmap, and communicate that clearly to the providers?
The Transparent Cloud-computing Consortium (abbreviation: T-Cloud Consortium) will conduct research activities into changes in the computing model as a result of collaboration between "device" and "cloud" and the creation of new value and markets through organic data processing High speed and high quality networks, and dramatic improvements in computer processing capabilities, have greatly changed the nature of applications and made the storing and processing of data on the network commonplace.
SYS-CON Events announced today that SoftLayer, an IBM Company, has been named “Gold Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York, New York. SoftLayer, an IBM Company, provides cloud infrastructure as a service from a growing number of data centers and network points of presence around the world. SoftLayer’s customers range from Web startups to global enterprises.
Digital innovation is the next big wave of business transformation based on digital technologies of which IoT and Big Data are key components, For example: Business boundary innovation is a challenge to excavate third-party business value using IoT and BigData, like Nest Business structure innovation may propose re-building business structure from scratch, as Uber does in the taxicab industry The social model innovation is also a big challenge to the new social architecture with the design fr...
Fact is, enterprises have significant legacy voice infrastructure that’s costly to replace with pure IP solutions. How can we bring this analog infrastructure into our shiny new cloud applications? There are proven methods to bind both legacy voice applications and traditional PSTN audio into cloud-based applications and services at a carrier scale. Some of the most successful implementations leverage WebRTC, WebSockets, SIP and other open source technologies. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Da...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Pulzze Systems will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Pulzze Systems, Inc. provides infrastructure products for the Internet of Things to enable any connected device and system to carry out matched operations without programming. For more information, visit http://www.pulzzesystems.com.
IoT is fundamentally transforming the auto industry, turning the vehicle into a hub for connected services, including safety, infotainment and usage-based insurance. Auto manufacturers – and businesses across all verticals – have built an entire ecosystem around the Connected Car, creating new customer touch points and revenue streams. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Macario Namie, Head of IoT Strategy at Cisco Jasper, will share real-world examples of how IoT transforms the car from a static p...
Big Data has been changing the world. IoT fuels the further transformation recently. How are Big Data and IoT related? In his session at @BigDataExpo, Tony Shan, a renowned visionary and thought leader, will explore the interplay of Big Data and IoT. He will anatomize Big Data and IoT separately in terms of what, which, why, where, when, who, how and how much. He will then analyze the relationship between IoT and Big Data, specifically the drilldown of how the 4Vs of Big Data (Volume, Variety,...
The many IoT deployments around the world are busy integrating smart devices and sensors into their enterprise IT infrastructures. Yet all of this technology – and there are an amazing number of choices – is of no use without the software to gather, communicate, and analyze the new data flows. Without software, there is no IT. In this power panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists will look at the protocols that communicate data and the emerging data analy...
Video experiences should be unique and exciting! But that doesn’t mean you need to patch all the pieces yourself. Users demand rich and engaging experiences and new ways to connect with you. But creating robust video applications at scale can be complicated, time-consuming and expensive. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Zohar Babin, Vice President of Platform, Ecosystem and Community at Kaltura, will discuss how VPaaS enables you to move fast, creating scalable video experiences that reach your...
SYS-CON Events announced today the Enterprise IoT Bootcamp, being held November 1-2, 2016, in conjunction with 19th Cloud Expo | @ThingsExpo at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Combined with real-world scenarios and use cases, the Enterprise IoT Bootcamp is not just based on presentations but with hands-on demos and detailed walkthroughs. We will introduce you to a variety of real world use cases prototyped using Arduino, Raspberry Pi, BeagleBone, Spark, and Intel Edison. Y...
WebRTC adoption has generated a wave of creative uses of communications and collaboration through websites, sales apps, customer care and business applications. As WebRTC has become more mainstream it has evolved to use cases beyond the original peer-to-peer case, which has led to a repeating requirement for interoperability with existing infrastructures. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Graham Holt, Executive Vice President of Daitan Group, will cover implementation examples that have enabled ea...
DevOps at Cloud Expo, taking place Nov 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 19th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to wait for long dev...