Welcome!

Agile Computing Authors: Larry Alton, Liz McMillan, Harry Trott, Elizabeth White, Carmen Gonzalez

Related Topics: Java IoT, Microservices Expo, Machine Learning , Agile Computing

Java IoT: Article

HTML5 and the Future of PhoneGap and WebView+

HTML5 is still one of the most discussed topics amongst us technical types

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.  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.

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; and Ludei.

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 Browse the Mobile Solution Directory 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.

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
IoT is at the core or many Digital Transformation initiatives with the goal of re-inventing a company's business model. We all agree that collecting relevant IoT data will result in massive amounts of data needing to be stored. However, with the rapid development of IoT devices and ongoing business model transformation, we are not able to predict the volume and growth of IoT data. And with the lack of IoT history, traditional methods of IT and infrastructure planning based on the past do not app...
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo 2016 in New York. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is as "IoT-Ready" as it can be! Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, New York, is co-located with 20th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry p...
"LinearHub provides smart video conferencing, which is the Roundee service, and we archive all the video conferences and we also provide the transcript," stated Sunghyuk Kim, CEO of LinearHub, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place June 6-8, 2017 at the Javits Center in New York City, New York, is co-located with the 20th International Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. @ThingsExpo New York Call for Papers is now open.
"There's a growing demand from users for things to be faster. When you think about all the transactions or interactions users will have with your product and everything that is between those transactions and interactions - what drives us at Catchpoint Systems is the idea to measure that and to analyze it," explained Leo Vasiliou, Director of Web Performance Engineering at Catchpoint Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York Ci...
The 20th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo, to be held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, brings together Cloud Computing, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Containers, Microservices and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportunity. Submit your speaking proposal ...
WebRTC is the future of browser-to-browser communications, and continues to make inroads into the traditional, difficult, plug-in web communications world. The 6th WebRTC Summit continues our tradition of delivering the latest and greatest presentations within the world of WebRTC. Topics include voice calling, video chat, P2P file sharing, and use cases that have already leveraged the power and convenience of WebRTC.
20th Cloud Expo, taking place June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy.
Discover top technologies and tools all under one roof at April 24–28, 2017, at the Westin San Diego in San Diego, CA. Explore the Mobile Dev + Test and IoT Dev + Test Expo and enjoy all of these unique opportunities: The latest solutions, technologies, and tools in mobile or IoT software development and testing. Meet one-on-one with representatives from some of today's most innovative organizations
DevOps is being widely accepted (if not fully adopted) as essential in enterprise IT. But as Enterprise DevOps gains maturity, expands scope, and increases velocity, the need for data-driven decisions across teams becomes more acute. DevOps teams in any modern business must wrangle the ‘digital exhaust’ from the delivery toolchain, "pervasive" and "cognitive" computing, APIs and services, mobile devices and applications, the Internet of Things, and now even blockchain. In this power panel at @...
Data is the fuel that drives the machine learning algorithmic engines and ultimately provides the business value. In his session at Cloud Expo, Ed Featherston, a director and senior enterprise architect at Collaborative Consulting, discussed the key considerations around quality, volume, timeliness, and pedigree that must be dealt with in order to properly fuel that engine.
The WebRTC Summit New York, to be held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, announces that its Call for Papers is now open. Topics include all aspects of improving IT delivery by eliminating waste through automated business models leveraging cloud technologies. WebRTC Summit is co-located with 20th International Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo. WebRTC is the future of browser-to-browser communications, and continues to make inroads into the traditional, difficult, plug-in web co...
"A lot of times people will come to us and have a very diverse set of requirements or very customized need and we'll help them to implement it in a fashion that you can't just buy off of the shelf," explained Nick Rose, CTO of Enzu, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Buzzword alert: Microservices and IoT at a DevOps conference? What could possibly go wrong? In this Power Panel at DevOps Summit, moderated by Jason Bloomberg, the leading expert on architecting agility for the enterprise and president of Intellyx, panelists peeled away the buzz and discuss the important architectural principles behind implementing IoT solutions for the enterprise. As remote IoT devices and sensors become increasingly intelligent, they become part of our distributed cloud enviro...
In 2014, Amazon announced a new form of compute called Lambda. We didn't know it at the time, but this represented a fundamental shift in what we expect from cloud computing. Now, all of the major cloud computing vendors want to take part in this disruptive technology. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, John Jelinek IV, a web developer at Linux Academy, will discuss why major players like AWS, Microsoft Azure, IBM Bluemix, and Google Cloud Platform are all trying to sidestep VMs and containers...
SYS-CON Events announced today that MobiDev, a client-oriented software development company, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place October 31-November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. MobiDev is a software company that develops and delivers turn-key mobile apps, websites, web services, and complex softw...
WebRTC is about the data channel as much as about video and audio conferencing. However, basically all commercial WebRTC applications have been built with a focus on audio and video. The handling of “data” has been limited to text chat and file download – all other data sharing seems to end with screensharing. What is holding back a more intensive use of peer-to-peer data? In her session at @ThingsExpo, Dr Silvia Pfeiffer, WebRTC Applications Team Lead at National ICT Australia, looked at differ...
Growth hacking is common for startups to make unheard-of progress in building their business. Career Hacks can help Geek Girls and those who support them (yes, that's you too, Dad!) to excel in this typically male-dominated world. Get ready to learn the facts: Is there a bias against women in the tech / developer communities? Why are women 50% of the workforce, but hold only 24% of the STEM or IT positions? Some beginnings of what to do about it! In her Day 2 Keynote at 17th Cloud Expo, Sandy Ca...
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 Media announced today that @WebRTCSummit Blog, the largest WebRTC resource in the world, has been launched. @WebRTCSummit Blog offers top articles, news stories, and blog posts from the world's well-known experts and guarantees better exposure for its authors than any other publication. @WebRTCSummit Blog can be bookmarked ▸ Here @WebRTCSummit conference site can be bookmarked ▸ Here