Wikipedia discusses the development of its app


It had been quite a long wait for the official Wikipedia app to land on the Android Market. Barely two weeks after launch, it has racked up over 500,000 downloads with a 4.5 star average rating. And now, the team behind the app has posted a blog describing the development process.

The most interesting bit to note is the use of PhoneGap, the web-technologies based cross-platform development tool. Such tools have seen a rise in popularity because of the ability to target multiple platforms with the same code.

Rather than diving into proprietary frameworks and SDKs, our application has been built on the same foundation as the open mobile web. And not only does this allow us to prepare for the future, it also accelerates our ability to develop across numerous platforms.

Within a short amount of time we’ve already developed a testing version of our iOS app with PhoneGap and we’ve established our first complete community port to the BlackBerry Playbook. This demonstrates the power of using open tools and communities to improve the Internet as a whole and it is a critical component to our long term goals.”

Many have argued that apps built using web technologies are no match for those built natively. Yet, despite having dabbled with PhoneGap quite a bit myself, I only learnt of its use by the Wiki team upon reading the blog post. Adobe bought PhoneGap’s parent company, Nitobi, last fall prior to announcing the end of mobile Flash.

Do you think Wikipedia’s use of PhoneGap foreshadows a shift towards open web-based technologies in favor of natively built apps?

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  • Juhani

    No, PhoneGap apps all feel wrong and function wrong. PhoneGap might be useful for building apps like wikipedia as it doesn’t do anything else than wrap the webpage and provide search. Doing anything more complex is sure to end into a disastrous user experience. Stay away from PhoneGap!

    • marcin kolonko

      i agree.
      i’ve made an app with appcelerator, and came to the same conclusion. it’s ok for apps like wikipedia. but as soon as you need deep integration, this tools are not an option.

    • http://twitter.com/Zfwaeld Zfwaeld Zfwaeld

      I’m curious… how feasible of an approach would it be to start development of an app using a suite like PhoneGapp or Appcelerator to get it off the ground, then optimize/rewrite it piece-by-piece for specific operating systems?

  • Eric

    Now, how about an update to the Phandroid app that makes it look as good as wikipedia’s???

    • G.A.22

      Wow, this wiki app does look good… Go with the update phandroid! Let R.B. do it, he’s a dev, and ship that man a better phone while you’re at it like a Sensation xl or something…OMG I know y’all (Phandroid) have something better just laying around! ;)