Category Archives: HTML5

Sketching with HTML5 Canvas and “Brush Images”

In a previous post on capturing user signatures in mobile applications, I explored how you capture user input from mouse or touch events and visualize that in a HTML5 Canvas.  Inspired by activities with my daughter, I decided to take this signature capture component and make it a bit more fun & exciting.   My daughter and I often draw and sketch together… whether its a magnetic sketching toy, doodling on the iPad, or using a crayon and a placemat at a local pizza joint, there is always something to draw. (Note: I never said I was actually good at drawing.)

Olivia & the iPad

You can take that exact same signature capture example, make the canvas bigger, and then combine it with a tablet and a stylus, and you’ve got a decent sketching application.   However, after doodling a bit you will quickly notice that your sketches leave something to be desired.   When you are drawing on a canvas using moveTo(x,y) and lineTo(x,y), you are somewhat limited in what you can do. You have lines which can have consisten thickness, color, and opacity. You can adjust these, however in the end, they are only lines.

If you switch your approach away from moveTo and lineTo, then things can get interesting with a minimal amount of changes. You can use images to create “brushes” for drawing strokes in a HTML5 canvas element and add a lot of style and depth to your sketched content.  This is an approach that I’ve adapted to JavaScript from some OpenGL drawing applications that I’ve worked on in the past.  Take a look at the video below to get an idea what I mean.

Examining the sketches side by side, it is easy to see the difference that this makes.   The variances in stroke thickness, opacity & angle add depth and style, and provide the appearance of drawing with a magic marker.

Sketches Side By Side

It’s hard to see the subtleties in this image, so feel free to try out the apps on your own using an iPad or in a HTML5 Canvas-capable browser:

Just click/touch and drag in the gray rectangle area to start drawing.

Now, let’s examine how it all works.   Both approaches use basic drawing techniques within the HTML5 Canvas element.   If you aren’t familiar with the HTML5 Canvas, you can quickly get up to speed from the tutorials from Mozilla.

moveTo, lineTo

The first technique uses the canvas’s drawing context moveTo(x,y) and lineTo(x,y) to draw line segments that correspond to the mouse/touch coordinates.   Think of this as playing “connect the dots” and drawing a solid line between two points.

The code for this approach will look something like the following:

[js]var canvas = document.getElementById(‘canvas’);
var context = canvas.getContext(‘2d’);

context.beginPath();
context.moveTo(a.x, a.y);
context.lineTo(b.x, b.y);
context.lineTo(c.x, c.y);
context.closePath();
context.stroke();[/js]

The sample output will be a line from point A, to point B, to point C:

lineTo(x,y) Stroke Sample

Brush Images

The technique for using brush images is identical in concept to the previous example – you are drawing a line from point A to point B.  However, rather than using the built-in drawing APIs, you are programmatically repeating an image (the brush) from point A to point B.

First, take a look at the brush image shown below at 400% of the actual scale.  It is a simple image that is a diagonal shape that is thicker and more opaque on the left side.   By itself, this will just be a mark on the canvas.

Brush Image (400% scale)

When you repeat this image from point A to point B, you will get a “solid” line.  However the opacity and thickness will vary depending upon the angle of the stroke.   Take a look at the sample below (approximated, and zoomed).

Brush Stroke Sample (simulated)

The question is… how do you actually do this in JavaScript code?

First, create an Image instance to be used as the brush source.

[js]brush = new Image();
brush.src = ‘assets/brush2.png’;[/js]

Once the image is loaded, the image can be drawn into the canvas’ context using the drawImage() function. The trick here is that you will need to use some trigonometry to determine how to repeat the image. In this case, you can calculate the angle and distance from the start point to the end point. Then, repeat the image based on that distance and angle.

[js]var canvas = document.getElementById(‘canvas’);
var context = canvas.getContext(‘2d’);

var halfBrushW = brush.width/2;
var halfBrushH = brush.height/2;

var start = { x:0, y:0 };
var end = { x:200, y:200 };

var distance = parseInt( Trig.distanceBetween2Points( start, end ) );
var angle = Trig.angleBetween2Points( start, end );

var x,y;

for ( var z=0; (z<=distance || z==0); z++ ) {
x = start.x + (Math.sin(angle) * z) – halfBrushW;
y = start.y + (Math.cos(angle) * z) – halfBrushH;
context.drawImage(this.brush, x, y);
}[/js]

For the trigonometry functions, I have a simple utility class to calculate the distance between two points, and the angle between two points. This is all based upon the good old Pythagorean theorem.

[js]var Trig = {
distanceBetween2Points: function ( point1, point2 ) {

var dx = point2.x – point1.x;
var dy = point2.y – point1.y;
return Math.sqrt( Math.pow( dx, 2 ) + Math.pow( dy, 2 ) );
},

angleBetween2Points: function ( point1, point2 ) {

var dx = point2.x – point1.x;
var dy = point2.y – point1.y;
return Math.atan2( dx, dy );
}
}[/js]

The full source for both of these examples is available on github at:

This example uses the twitter bootstrap UI framework, jQuery, and Modernizr.  Both the lineTo.html and brush.html apps use the exact same code, which just uses a separate rendering function based upon the use case.    Feel free to try out the apps on your own using an iPad or in a HTML5 Canvas-capable browser:

Just click/touch and drag in the gray rectangle area to start drawing.

Stylistic Sketchy
Stylistic Sketchy - Click to Get Started

Capturing User Signatures in Mobile Applications

One growing trend that I have seen in mobile & tablet applications is the creation of tools that enable your workforce to perform their job better. This can be in the case of mobile data retrieval, streamlined sales process with apps for door-to-door sales, mobile business process efficiency, etc…

One of the topics that comes up is how do you capture a signature and store it within your application? This might be for validation that the signer is who they say they are, or for legal/contractual reasons. Imagine a few scenarios:

  • Your cable TV can’t be installed until you sign the digital form on the installation tech’s tablet device
  • You agree to purchase a service from a sales person (door to door, or in-store kiosk) – your signature is required to make this legally binding.
  • Your signature is required to accept an agreement before confidential data is presented to you.

These are just a few random scenarios, I’m sure there are many more.   In this post, I will focus on 2 (yes, I said two) cross-platform solutions to handle this task – one built with Adobe Flex & AIR, and one built with HTML5 Canvas & PhoneGap.  

Source for both solutions is available at: https://github.com/triceam/Mobile-Signature-Capture

Watch the video below to see this in action, then we’ll dig into the code that makes it work.

The basic flow of the application is that you enter an email address, sign the interface, then click the green “check” button to submit to the signature to a ColdFusion server.  The server then sends a multi-part email to the email address that you provided, containing text elements as well as the signature that was just captured.

If you’d like to jump straight to specific code portions, use the links below:


The Server Solution

Let’s first examine the server component of the sample application.   The server side is powered by ColdFusion. There’s just a single CFC that is utilized by both the Flex/AIR and HTML/PhoneGap front-end applications.   The CFC exposes a single service that accepts two parameters: the email address, and a base-64 encoded string of the captured image data.

[cf]<cffunction name="submitSignature" access="remote" returntype="boolean">
<cfargument name="email" type="string" required="yes">
<cfargument name="signature" type="string" required="yes">

<cfmail SUBJECT ="Signature"
FROM="#noReplyAddress#"
TO="#email#"
username="#emailLoginUsername#"
password="#emailLoginPassword#"
server="#mailServer#"
type="HTML" >

<p>This completes the form transaction for <strong>#email#</strong>.</p>

<p>You may view your signature below:</p>
<p><img src="cid:signature" /></p>

<p>Thank you for your participation.</p>

<cfmailparam
file="signature"
content="#toBinary( signature )#"
contentid="signature"
disposition="inline" />

</cfmail>

<cfreturn true />
</cffunction>[/cf]

Note: I used base-64 encoded image data so that it can be a single server component for both user interfaces. In Flex/AIR you can also serialize the data as a binary byte array, however binary serialization isn’t quite as easy with HTML/JS… read on to learn more.


The Flex/AIR Solution

The main user interface for the Flex/AIR solution is a simple UI with some form elements. In that UI there is an instance of my SignatureCapture user interface component. This is a basic component that is built on top of UIComponent (the base class for all Flex visual components), which encapsulates all logic for capturing the user signature. The component captures input based on mouse events (single touch events are handled as mouse events in air). The mouse input is then used to manipulate the graphics content of the component using the drawing API. I like to think of the drawing API as a language around the childhood game “connect the dots”. In this case, you are just drawing lines from one point to another.

When the form is submitted, the graphical content is converted to a base-64 encoded string using the Flex ImageSnapshot class/API, before passing it to the server.

You can check out a browser-based Flex version of this in action at http://tricedesigns.com/portfolio/sigCaptureFlex/ – Just enter a valid email address and use your mouse to sign within the signature area. When this is submitted, it will send an email to you containing the signature.

You can check out the SignatureCapture component code below, or check out the full project at https://github.com/triceam/Mobile-Signature-Capture/tree/master/flex%20client. This class will also work in desktop AIR or browser/based Flex applications. The main application workflow and UI is contained with Main.mxml.

[as3]package
{
import flash.display.DisplayObject;
import flash.display.Graphics;
import flash.display.Sprite;
import flash.events.MouseEvent;
import flash.geom.Point;

import mx.core.UIComponent;
import mx.graphics.ImageSnapshot;
import mx.managers.IFocusManagerComponent;

import spark.primitives.Graphic;

public class SignatureCapture extends UIComponent
{
private var captureMask : Sprite;
private var drawSurface : UIComponent;
private var lastMousePosition : Point;

private var backgroundColor : int = 0xEEEEEE;
private var borderColor : int = 0x888888;
private var borderSize : int = 2;
private var cornerRadius :int = 25;
private var strokeColor : int = 0;
private var strokeSize : int = 2;

public function SignatureCapture()
{
lastMousePosition = new Point();
super();
}

override protected function createChildren():void
{
super.createChildren();

captureMask = new Sprite();
drawSurface = new UIComponent();
this.mask = captureMask;
addChild( drawSurface );
addChild( captureMask );

this.addEventListener( MouseEvent.MOUSE_DOWN, onMouseDown );
}

protected function onMouseDown( event : MouseEvent ) : void
{
lastMousePosition = globalToLocal( new Point( stage.mouseX, stage.mouseY ) );
stage.addEventListener( MouseEvent.MOUSE_MOVE, onMouseMove );
stage.addEventListener( MouseEvent.MOUSE_UP, onMouseUp );
}

protected function onMouseMove( event : MouseEvent ) : void
{
updateSegment();
}

protected function onMouseUp( event : MouseEvent ) : void
{
updateSegment();
stage.removeEventListener( MouseEvent.MOUSE_MOVE, onMouseMove );
stage.removeEventListener( MouseEvent.MOUSE_UP, onMouseUp );
}

protected function updateSegment() : void
{
var nextMousePosition : Point = globalToLocal( new Point( stage.mouseX, stage.mouseY ) );
renderSegment( lastMousePosition, nextMousePosition );
lastMousePosition = nextMousePosition;
}

public function clear() : void
{
drawSurface.graphics.clear();
}

override public function toString() : String
{
var snapshot : ImageSnapshot = ImageSnapshot.captureImage( drawSurface );
return ImageSnapshot.encodeImageAsBase64( snapshot );
}

override protected function updateDisplayList(w:Number, h:Number):void
{
super.updateDisplayList(w,h);

drawSurface.width = w;
drawSurface.height = h;

var g : Graphics = this.graphics;

//draw rectangle for mouse hit area
g.clear();
g.lineStyle( borderSize, borderColor, 1, true );
g.beginFill( backgroundColor, 1 );
g.drawRoundRect( 0,0,w,h, cornerRadius, cornerRadius );

//fill mask
g.clear();
g = captureMask.graphics;
g.beginFill( 0, 1 );
g.drawRoundRect( 0,0,w,h, cornerRadius, cornerRadius );
}

protected function renderSegment( from : Point, to : Point ) : void
{
var g : Graphics = drawSurface.graphics;
g.lineStyle( strokeSize, strokeColor, 1 );
g.moveTo( from.x, from.y );
g.lineTo( to.x, to.y );
}
}
}[/as3]


The HTML5/PhoneGap Solution

The main user interface for the HTML5/PhoneGap solution is also a simple UI with some form elements. In that UI there is a Canvas element that is used to render the signature. I created a SignatureCapture JavaScript class that encapsulates all logic for capturing the user signature. In browsers that support touch events (mobile browsers), this is based on the touchstart, touchmove and touchend events. In browsers that don’t support touch (aka desktop browsers), the signature input is based on mousedown, mousemove and mouseup events. The component captures input based on touch or mouse events, and that input is used to manipulate the graphics content of the Canvas tag instance. The canvas tag also supports a drawing API that is similar to the ActionScript drawing API. To read up on Canvas programmatic drawing basics, check out the tutorials at http://www.adobe.com/devnet/html5/html5-canvas.html

When the form is submitted, the graphical content is converted to a base-64 encoded string using the Canvas’s toDataURL() method. The toDataURL() method returns a base-64 encoded string value of the image content, prefixed with “data:image/png,”. Since I’ll be passing this back to the server, I don’t need this prefix, so it is stripped, then sent to the server for content within the email.

You can check out a browser-based version of this using the HTML5 Canvas in action at http://tricedesigns.com/portfolio/sigCapture/ – Again, just enter a valid email address and use your mouse to sign within the signature area. When this is submitted, it will send an email to you containing the signature. However, this example requires that your browser supports the HTML5 Canvas tag.

You can check out the SignatureCapture code below, or check out the full project at https://github.com/triceam/Mobile-Signature-Capture/tree/master/html%20client. This class will also work in desktop browser applications that support the HTML5 canvas. I used Modernizr to determine whether touch events are supported within the client container (PhoneGap or desktop browser). The main application workflow is within application.js.

Also a note for Android users, the Canvas toDataURL() method does not work in Android versions earlier than 3.0. However, you can implement your own toDataURL() method for use in older OS versions using the technique in this link: http://jimdoescode.blogspot.com/2011/11/trials-and-tribulations-with-html5.html (I did not update this example to support older Android OS versions.)

[js]function SignatureCapture( canvasID ) {
this.touchSupported = Modernizr.touch;
this.canvasID = canvasID;
this.canvas = $("#"+canvasID);
this.context = this.canvas.get(0).getContext("2d");
this.context.strokeStyle = "#000000";
this.context.lineWidth = 1;
this.lastMousePoint = {x:0, y:0};

this.canvas[0].width = this.canvas.parent().innerWidth();

if (this.touchSupported) {
this.mouseDownEvent = "touchstart";
this.mouseMoveEvent = "touchmove";
this.mouseUpEvent = "touchend";
}
else {
this.mouseDownEvent = "mousedown";
this.mouseMoveEvent = "mousemove";
this.mouseUpEvent = "mouseup";
}

this.canvas.bind( this.mouseDownEvent, this.onCanvasMouseDown() );
}

SignatureCapture.prototype.onCanvasMouseDown = function () {
var self = this;
return function(event) {
self.mouseMoveHandler = self.onCanvasMouseMove()
self.mouseUpHandler = self.onCanvasMouseUp()

$(document).bind( self.mouseMoveEvent, self.mouseMoveHandler );
$(document).bind( self.mouseUpEvent, self.mouseUpHandler );

self.updateMousePosition( event );
self.updateCanvas( event );
}
}

SignatureCapture.prototype.onCanvasMouseMove = function () {
var self = this;
return function(event) {

self.updateCanvas( event );
event.preventDefault();
return false;
}
}

SignatureCapture.prototype.onCanvasMouseUp = function (event) {
var self = this;
return function(event) {

$(document).unbind( self.mouseMoveEvent, self.mouseMoveHandler );
$(document).unbind( self.mouseUpEvent, self.mouseUpHandler );

self.mouseMoveHandler = null;
self.mouseUpHandler = null;
}
}

SignatureCapture.prototype.updateMousePosition = function (event) {
var target;
if (this.touchSupported) {
target = event.originalEvent.touches[0]
}
else {
target = event;
}

var offset = this.canvas.offset();
this.lastMousePoint.x = target.pageX – offset.left;
this.lastMousePoint.y = target.pageY – offset.top;

}

SignatureCapture.prototype.updateCanvas = function (event) {

this.context.beginPath();
this.context.moveTo( this.lastMousePoint.x, this.lastMousePoint.y );
this.updateMousePosition( event );
this.context.lineTo( this.lastMousePoint.x, this.lastMousePoint.y );
this.context.stroke();
}

SignatureCapture.prototype.toString = function () {

var dataString = this.canvas.get(0).toDataURL("image/png");
var index = dataString.indexOf( "," )+1;
dataString = dataString.substring( index );

return dataString;
}

SignatureCapture.prototype.clear = function () {

var c = this.canvas[0];
this.context.clearRect( 0, 0, c.width, c.height );
}[/js]


Source for the ColdFusion server, as well as Flex/AIR and HTML5/PhoneGap clients is available at: https://github.com/triceam/Mobile-Signature-Capture

Toying with Realtime Data & Web Sockets

Recently I was acting as a “second set of eyes” to help out fellow Adobe Evangelist Kevin Hoyt track down a quirk with a websockets example that he was putting together. Kevin has a great writeup to familiarize yourself with web sockets & streaming communication that I highly recommend checking out.

While working with Kevin’s code, I started tinkering… “what if I change this, what if I tweak that?” Next thing you know, I put together a sample scenario showing subscription-based realtime data streaming to multiple web clients using web sockets. Check out the video below to see it in action.

You are seeing 9 separate browser instances getting realtime push-based updates from a local server using web sockets. When the browser loads, the html-based client makes a web socket connection, then requests all symbols from the server. The server then sends the stock symbol definitions back to the client and displays them within the HTML user interface. From there, the user can click on a stock symbol to subscribe to updates for that particular symbol. DISCLAIMER: All that data is randomly generated!

I put together this example for experimentation, but also to highlight a few technical scenarios for HTML-based applications. Specifically:

  • Realtime/push data in HTML-based apps
  • Per-client subscriptions for realtime data
  • Multi-series realtime data visualization in HTML-based apps

The server is an AIR app started by Kevin, based on the web sockets draft protocol. It is written in JavaScript, and the client is a HTML page to be viewed in the browser.

If you don’t feel like reading the full web sockets protocol reference, you can get a great overview from websocket.org or Wikipedia.

One thing to keep in mind is that web sockets are not widely supported in all browsers yet. There is a great reference matrix for web socket support from caniuse.com:

If you still aren’t sure if your browser supports web sockets, you can also check simply by visiting websocketstest.com/. If you want to test for web socket support within your own applications, you can easily check for support using Modernizr. Note: I didn’t add the Modernizr test in this example… I only tested in Chrome on OSX.

OK, now back to the sample application. All of the source code for this example is available on github at: https://github.com/triceam/Websocket-Streaming-Example.  To run it yourself, you first have to launch the server. You can do this on the command line by invoking ADL (part of the AIR SDK):

[as3]cd "/Applications/Adobe Flash Builder 4.6/sdks/4.6.0/bin"
./adl ~/Documents/dev/Websocket-Streaming-Example/server/application.xml[/as3]

You’ll know the server is started b/c an air window will popup (you can ignore this, just don’t close it), and you will start seeing feed updates in the console output.

Once the server is running, open “client/client.html” in your browser. It will connect to the local server, and then request the list of symbols. If you click on a symbol, it will subscribe to that feed. Just click on the symbol name again to unsubscribe. You’ll know the feed is subscribed b/c the symbol will show up in a color (matching the corresponding feed on the chart). Again, let me reiterate that I only tested this in Chrome.

You can open up numerous client instances, and all will receive the same updates in real time for each subscribed stock symbol.

The “meat” of code for the server starts in server/scripts/server/server.js. Basically, the server loads a configuration file for the socket server, then creates a ConnectionManager and DataFeed (both of these are custom JS classes). The ConnectionManager class encapsulates all logic around socket connections. This includes managing the ServerSocket as well as all client socket instances and events. The DataFeed class handles data within the app. First, it generates random data, then sets up an interval to generate random data updates. For every data update, the ConnectionManager instance’s dispatch() method is invoked to send updates to all subscribed clients. Rather than trying to put lots of code snippets inline in this post (which would just be more confusing), check out the full source at: https://github.com/triceam/Websocket-Streaming-Example/tree/master/server

The client code all starts in client.html, with the application logic inside of client/scripts/client.js. Once the client interface loads, it connects to the web socket and adds the appropriate event handlers. Once subscribed to a data feed, realtime data will be returned via the web socket instance, transformed slightly to fit the data visualization structure, then rendered in an HTML canvas using the RGraph data visualization library. RGraph is free to get started with, however if you want to deploy a production app with it, you’ll need a license. You’ll notice that each feed updates independently, based upon the client subscriptions. Note: The data visualization is not temporally aligned… if you want the updates in time-sequence, there is a litte bit more work involved in the client-side data transformation.

Again, rather than trying to put lots of confusing code snippets inline in this post, check out the full client side source at: https://github.com/triceam/Websocket-Streaming-Example/tree/master/client

This example is intended to get your minds rolling with the concepts; it is not *yet* an all-encompassing enterprise solution. You can expect to see a few more data push scenarios here in the near future, based on different enterprise server technologies.

Enjoy!

Introducing the US Census Browser Application

I’d like to take this opportunity to introduce you to a new project I’ve been working on to showcase enterprise-class data visualization in HTML-based applications.   The US Census Browser is an open source application for browsing data from the 2010 US Census.

The app is completely written using HTML and JavaScript, even for the charting/data visualization components. You can check it out in several application ecosystems today:

Apple iTunes: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/census-browser/id483201717
Google Android: https://market.android.com/details?id=com.tricedesigns.CensusBrowser
BlackBerry App World: http://appworld.blackberry.com/webstore/content/69236?lang=en
Amazon App Store: http://www.amazon.com/Andrew-Trice-US-Census-Browser/dp/B006JDATOY/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=mobile-apps&qid=1323874245&sr=1-1 (this includes support for Kindle Fire)

Support for additional platforms is planned for future development. Future targets include BlackBerry Playbook as well as Android 2.x devices, including the Amazon Kindle Fire and Barnes & Noble Nook Color – Android 2.x does not support SVG graphics in-browser, so I am working on some alternative features.

Update: Kindle Fire and Playbook have been approved, and are now supported. See links above.

You can also view the US Census Browser application in your desktop or mobile browser at: http://tricedesigns.com/census/

Please keep in mind that this application was designed for mobile devices.  Internet Explorer in particular does not work well with the Census Browser – use at your own risk.   The browser-based application has been tested and works properly in the latest versions of Chrome, Safari, Firefox, and Opera.   The US Census Browser application also does not work in Android 2.x and below, due to the fact that these versions of Android do not support SVG graphics in the mobile browser.

Full application source code for the HTML/JS interface and ColdFusion backend system are available at https://github.com/triceam/US-Census-Browser under the terms of the “Modified BSD License”. Be sure to review the README if you want to get this running on your own.

APPLICATION OVERVIEW
The application is essentially a single-page web site, which asynchronously loads data from the backend upon request, and displays that data to the user. The main application file is index.html, which loads the UI and appropriate client-side scripts. The main presentation logic is applied via CSS stylesheets, and the application control is handled by the ApplicationController class, inside of application.js. The ApplicationController class handles state changes within the application and updates the UI accordingly. The main data visualization and data formatting logic is all contained within the censusVisualizer class, which the ApplicationController class uses to render content. All DOM manipulation, event handling, and AJAX requests are performed using jQuery.

The data visualization is implemented 100% client-side, using the Highcharts JavaScript library. Highcharts renders vector graphics client-side, based upon the data that is passed into it. Check out the examples at: http://www.highcharts.com/demo/ for a sample of what it is capable of.

The fluid scrolling and swiping between views is implemented using the iScroll JavaScript library. Note: I’m using iScroll-lite.js. This is a great resource for any HTML-mobile, or mobile-web applications.

PHONEGAP USAGE
The client-side runtime does not have any dependencies for access to device-specific functionality. However, PhoneGap is being used as an application container so that the application can be distributed through various mobile “app stores”.

SERVER-SIDE
The back-end of this application is written using ColdFusion. Yep, that’s right. I used CF. In fact, the server side is ridiculously simple. It is only a single ColdFusion Component (CFC), with three remotely exposed methods for accessing data, and relies upon CF’s built in functionality to serialize JSON. CF is incredibly powerful, and made this project very simple and quick to develop.

Feel free to check it out on github: https://github.com/triceam/US-Census-Browser
You can also check out more technical details at: http://www.tricedesigns.com/2010-census/

Building PhoneGap Applications With Dreamweaver

Update (3/28/2012): 

Hi Everyone, I know there have been lots of questions about PhoneGap + Android SDK, and lots of headaches because Google’s Android SDK keeps changing and breaking the Dreamweaver integration. Fret not! There is an easier way — Adobe has released a plugin to integrate Dreamweaver with PhoneGap Build. With this plugin, you build your experience in Dreamweaver, then push to the PhoneGap Build service for cloud-based compilation of device-specific binaries. Read more about this plugin here: http://blogs.adobe.com/dreamweaver/2012/04/phonegap-build-extension-for-dreamweaver-cs5-5.html


Original Post:

PhoneGap apps are built with HTML and JavaScript, and can be created with any IDE or text editor. You can build them in xCode or Eclipse. Did you also know that you can build PhoneGap apps within Dreamweaver, and you can even launch and debug on the iOS Simulator and Android Emulator all from within Dreamweaver?

Here’s a video of this in action from Adobe TV. After the video, we’ll walk through this process step by step.

In order to use the iOS simulator and Android emulator, you’ll need to download and install xCode and the Android SDK.   Once you’ve downloaded those, let’s focus on setting up your project within Dreamweaver.

The first thing that you need to do is create a new “site” within Dreamweaver for your PhoneGap application.  Go to the “Site” menu, and select “New Site…”.

The site setup/details dialog will be displayed.   Go ahead and give it a name and directory to contain project files and resources.

Next, we need to create the main application file.  Within Dreamweaver, go to “File”, and select “New…”.  Then select the “Page from Sample” option, sample folder “Mobile Starters”, then select the page template for “jQuery Mobile (PhoneGap)” and click “Create”.

This will create a new HTML file for the mobile project.  Go ahead and save the file you just created.   The first time this file is saved, you will be prompted to copy dependent files.  Click “Copy” to copy the dependent files into your application “site”.

Once in Dreamweaver, you can edit the HTML and JavaScript to your heart’s content.   You can take full advantage of Dreamweaver’s code view or design view, live previews, and any other features.

Once you are ready to build and deploy to the android and iOS simulators, you’ll need to setup the mobile development configuration.   First, we’ll need to configure the application frameworks.   Within Dreamweaver, go to the “Site” menu, select “Mobile Applications”, then select “Configure Application Framework”.

The “Configure Application Framework” dialog will be displayed.   Here, you’ll need to enter the full path to your Android SDK, and the path to the iOS Developer tools (xCode).

Once you have the application frameworks configured, you’ll need to configure your application’s settings.    Go to the “Site” menu, select “Mobile Applications”, then select “Application Settings…”.

Within the “Native Application Settings” dialog, you’ll need to specify your application bundle id (the unique id for the application), an application name, the author, version, and application icons.   You can also select iOS SDK versions, and which Android emulator to use.

Once you’ve configured the application settings and application frameworks, you are ready to build your app and run in the emulators.   Just go to the “Site” menu, select “Mobile Applications”, select “Build and Emulate”, then choose a device or platform.

Once you chose a platform or device, Dreamweaver will go ahead and launch the appropriate emulator or simulator, and launch the application.

If you run into issues with the Android SDK, first make sure that you are using the latest Dreamweaver SDK following the instructions at http://blog.assortedgarbage.com/2011/05/resolving-android-sdk-failed-to-install-with-dreamweaver-cs5-5/

If you still have issues with deploying to Android and see the error message below in the build log, then you are probably using the latest Android SDK that was recently released in October.

[code]Install file not specified.

‘ant install’ now requires the build target to be specified as well.

ant debug install
ant release install
ant instrument install
This will build the given package and install it.

Alternatively, you can use
ant installd
ant installr
ant installi
ant installt
to only install an existing package (this will not rebuild the package.)[/code]

The latest Android SDK introduced an additional parameter that is not yet supported by the PhoneGap integration kit within Dreamweaver. You can fix this by updating the build.xml file for the application instance to override the “install” target and add the required dependencies which make this error go away.

Go to you application build director and open the “build.xml” file. This will be inside a folder named after the bundle_ID within your target directory. You can find the target directory within the “Application Settings” dialog, as shown below:

In my case, the build directory is /Users.triceam/Destkop/com.company.phonegapsample_Android

Find the “import” node below (at the end of the file):

[xml]<import file="${sdk.dir}/tools/ant/build.xml" />[/xml]

Add to this line the attribute ‘as=”imported”‘ and a new “install” target that will override the existing “install” target as shown below. This build target will utilize the existing “install” target, and add necessary debug file dependencies to fix the build error shown above.

[xml]
<import file="${sdk.dir}/tools/ant/build.xml" as="imported" />
<!– Override the target to add the dependency –>
<target name="install"
depends="-set-debug-files,imported.install" />
[/xml]

Not only is Dreamweaver CS5.5 a best-of-breed solution for building web content, with PhoneGap support, Dreamweaver is now a best-of-breed solution for building cross-platform mobile applications as well. Using the PhoneGap integration within Dreamweaver allows you to use familiar tools, familiar development processes, and your current web development skills to build exciting new mobile applications. This enables you, as the developer or designer to focus on what matters – the application or content within your mobile scenarios.