Android – Bridging the Gap Between Native and HTML5 Mobile Apps (ADF-Mobile And Cordova)

At Fishbowl Solutions; we’ve been looking at ways to enhance and bring the Android experience closer to that native experience that every user wants: – here are some solutions that we are using today to help bridge the Android <4.4 gap and also bring in the latest web technology like WebSocket and WebRTC support not available with either cordova or ADF Mobile today..

When it comes to mobile development with ADF-Mobile or Cordova (HTML5) you will notice that there’s a significant difference in performance and support with the HTML5, CSS3 standards between Android and IOS when building HTML5 hybrid mobile apps.

Today; IOS is closer at bridging the gap – giving it a near to native experience in IOS7; – however with Android if your running a device lower than KitKat OS you will still notice a big hit with performance – this is due to ADF-Mobile and Cordova surfacing the standard webview with an old WebKit engine using the default browser with android and not the chromium browser (now part of KitKat).

 

With those developing ADF-Mobile be aware of the following -

- An old version of jquery (1.7.1) is used with the AMX views (1.7.1 was not designed for mobile) – hopefully Oracle will be upgrading this to the latest supported jquery release targeted for mobile or alternatively swap to mobile jquery syntaxed framework like Zepto.js.

- You can push the updates in manually – this will improve response times and animations;  however be aware that some jquery methods may of been depreciated and may cause you some issues – although I have not come across anything major when manually enhancing ADF Mobile.

There is also a bug with the initial load times of apps in ADF Mobile (Android) – I believe Oracle are working to fix this with the next ADF-Mobile update – this is outside of Cordova or the webview issue and I believe to be more related to the JVM setup. (Correct me if I’m wrong – anyone…)

Cordova 2.2.0 is also used on ADF Mobile (the currently cordova release is 3.4.0) – I’m hoping in the future that Oracle will make it easier for us to upgrade the Cordova Release and supply better release notes on ADF Mobile compatibility with Cordova.
i.e. 2.x is supported in the current release 3.x to be supported on the roadmap – 9 months time, etc.

- If you run into any issues with ADF Mobile; its worth taking a look to see what issues/bugs were in Cordova 2.2.0 release and follow up with Oracle Support to supply an fix for the issue or risk patching the framework yourself.

 

Creating that Native UX with Android (Cordova and potentially ADF-Mobile)

At Fishbowl Solutions we split our Apps to a Single Page App view outside of AMX Business component view for content management – this allows our clients web and marketing teams to quickly enhance content and brand mobile apps; without the need to learn ADF-Mobile using best practices for developing hybrid html5 mobile applications. This approach allows us to deploy our core apps to Cordova or lifecycle management systems like IBM-Worklight when clients do not need the power of ADF-Mobile and JAVA support to integrate with other Oracle systems.

Suggested Frontend JS Libraries (Cordova)
After working with Phonegap/Cordova for the last 4 years these are my recommendation of libraries to use for mobile app development outside of ADF-Mobile AMX views.


Rethinking Best Practices

1. ReactJS developed by Facebook/Instagram is a perfect open sourced library for developing Single Page Apps optimised for mobile development with its virtualised DOM and JS Engine makes animations and transitions effortless – If you are new to ReactJS you need to watch Rethinking Best Practices to give you an underlining understanding and appreciation of why virtualisation of DOM makes complete sense – when developing mobile apps – no need for acceleration on your browser to create clean transition touch events. Alternatively you could take a look at AngularJS by Google; but in terms of performance for mobile I personally believe ReactJS is the way to go even though its still fairly new to the industry – it will provide a closer native experience if used correctly.

2. Director part of the Flatiron framework is a great match for Reactjs – it’s a great URL Router to handle page history and template requests for single paged mobile apps.

3. RequireJS library – is a module loader that will improve the speed and quality of your code; compressing both CSS files and JS libraries into a single compressed file.

4. i18next translation library is a great solution for marketing teams to manage internationalisation string for your apps.

5. jQuery 2.1.0 the latest release is now optimised for mobile development a year or so ago I would of recommended Zepto.js but today jQuerys latest release is just as good for mobile development.

Getting Rid of Androids Old WebKit Browser and enhancing with Chromium and Blink!!

So this is where things get interesting!…

I’ve been working with the Crosswalk-Project runtime this last month upgrading Fishbowl Solutions Mobile Cordova Apps – which in effect has given me the OOTB power and experience achieved with IOS7 Cordova apps and more!

CrossWalk Overview

At the heart of Crosswalk is the Blink rendering and layout engine – this provides the same HTML5 features and capabilities you would expect to find in any modern web brower ie webSocket webRTC etc..

Building on Blink, Crosswalk uses the Chromium Content module to provide a multi-process architecture, designed for security and performance.

For anyone developing Cordova or hybrid apps I’d recommend taking a look at this project and incorporating the runtime if you are working on Android Mobile apps.. This month we’ll be looking at the potential to incorporate this runtime with ADF-Mobile – we’ll let you know how we get on.

 

 

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