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What is Cordova Framework?

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Most enterprises lack the skills and resources required to build native mobile apps for multiple mobile platforms. They opt for hybrid mobile app development to make the same app available on multiple mobile platforms by overcoming constraints related to time and resources. Unlike native mobile apps, hybrid mobile apps are developed with commonly used web technologies — HTML5, CSS3 and JavaScript. But hybrid mobile apps, unlike HTML5 mobile web apps, are distributed through app stores and deliver native user experience.

An enterprise can further accelerate hybrid mobile app development by taking advantage of robust frameworks like Cordova. Adobe System rebranded PhoneGap as Cordova after acquiring Nitobi in 2011. At present, mobile app developers can use Cordova Framework as an open source framework for hybrid mobile app development. Apache Cordova enables developers to build cross-platform mobile apps with HTML5, CSS3 and JavaScript. The developers can use HTML5 and CSS3 to render content and JavaScript to render logic.

Also, they can build amazing hybrid mobile apps by using several JavaScript libraries. Cordova Framework further makes it easier for developer to package the hybrid mobile apps for each targeted mobile platform. Hence, Cordova app can be installed just like native mobile apps despite being developed with web technologies. At the same time, the framework also allows developers to make the app access native device capabilities through a variety of plug-ins. But a developer must understand various aspects of Cordova Framework to choose the right hybrid mobile app development framework.

Understanding Important Aspects of Apache Cordova Framework

A Single Code Base

At present, Cordova Framework supports popular platforms like iOS, Android, Windows, OS X, Blackberry 10 and Ubuntu. Hence, a developer can use the framework to build a single mobile app by targeting several mobile platforms. At the same time, Cordova Framework enables developers to write the app in HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript. The developer is further required to write the app code once, and then package it for individual mobile platforms through specific devices installer format. The devices installer formats enable the app to deliver native user experience by accessing native device functionality like camera, GPS, Bluetooth and Contacts.

Web View

The user interface (UI) of a Cordova application is designed technically acts like WebView. The UI runs in the native container, while occupying the entire screen. As the same WebView is being used by native platforms, the native containers change according to the underlying mobile operating system, while the web pages remain unchanged. At the same time, the Cordova libraries make the mobile app deliver native user experience by interacting with the native framework of individual operating systems. Hence, Cordova Framework makes it easier for developers to make the app deliver richer user experience across mobile platforms without changing the app code.

Plug-in Architecture

While using Cordova Framework, developers can link JavaScript code to the native code running in the backend through robust plug-ins. The developers even have option to choose from a wide range of readymade plug-ins according the required functionality and targeted platform. At present, developers can make the app access native device capabilities by using a variety of Cordova plug-ins. For instance, they can use the cordova-universal-links-plugin to make the app support deep links on Android devices and universal links on iOS devices. Likewise, they can use the app security API to avail the security properties and capabilities of the underlying platform. At the same time, the API provided by the Cordova Framework makes it easier for developers to write custom plug-ins according to their precise needs.

Command Line Interface

The Cordova Command Line Interface (CLI) helps developers to accelerate mobile app development, testing, and deployment by running specific commands. The developers can use the CLI to speed up common mobile app development tasks like creating a new project and deploying the app to various mobile platforms. At the same time, they can also execute commands to test the hybrid mobile app with both real devices and emulators. However, they must install the SDKs for each targeted mobile platform before using the CLI tools. They can still use the CLI tool quickly by installing it as an npm package.

App Templates

The Cordova App Templates accelerate hybrid mobile app development by allowing developers to use pre-existing code. A developer even has option to choose the template from various sources — npm, Git repository and local computers. He can further take advantage of the attributed of create command to create projects quickly based on the selected template. Cordova Framework further allows users to add the targeted mobile platforms of the app after creating the project. Hence, a developer can take advantage of Cordova App Templates to create the app for multiple platforms using his pre-existing code.

A Variety of Development Tools

Cordova Framework is compatible with several widely used mobile app development frameworks, tools, and integrated development environments (IDEs). Hence, the developers can easily extend the open source app development framework and create amazing mobile apps by leveraging popular tools like Ionic Frameworks and IDEs like Visual Studio. The latest version of Visual Studio provides a set of tools for Apache Cordova — easy-to-use installer, code editor, code debugging, app testing, and app experience personalization. At the same time, the users also have option to take advantage of a robust SDK for hybrid mobile app development like Ionic Framework to enhance the app’s look, feel and user experience.


Cordova Framework, like other hybrid mobile app development tools, has its own shortcomings. For instance, the cross-compilation process makes Cordova apps slower than native mobile apps. Also, developers often find it daunting to find plug-ins based on their precise needs. Many developers even build custom plug-ins to meet business needs while using Cordova. Also, they need to explore ways to customize the app for individual mobile platforms. The mobile app developers must address the shortcomings of Apache Cordova to build amazing hybrid mobile apps.

On the whole, Cordova Framework helps enterprises to reduce hybrid mobile app development time and cost significantly. But the users must keep in mind the pros and cons of the framework to accelerate custom mobile app development. Also, they need to evaluate the pros and cons of Apache Cordova according to precise needs of each project.


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