PhoneGap Support in MyEclipse 2015

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    Brian Fernandes
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    Existing PhoneGap tooling in MyEclipse 2015

    When we introduced PhoneGap tooling in MyEclipse 2015 our aim was to provide comprehensive support for Hybrid Mobile App development using the Cordova and PhoneGap technologies. We support a range of capabilities, taking you from project creation, to building production versions of your application, with the ability to test your application in our Mobile Web Simulator. We wanted to empower users with the ability to build apps locally, without needing to rely on the remote PhoneGap Build service.

    For some users, our PhoneGap tools continue to perform well, but at the same time, there are also many users who experience a variety of issues, like those described below:

    • Plugin wizard no longer functions
    • Building fails due to signing problems or other issues
    • Inability to create a PhoneGap project
    • Simulator fails to work or correctly simulate some PhoneGap plugins

    Why are these problems occurring?

    Tools in MyEclipse must interface with an external SDK environment, comprising the PhoneGap CLI and framework, Android SDK or XCode installation, etc., which we have no control over. This environment often is drastically different from one machine to the next and a deviation from an expected environment could result in behavior that our tooling is unable to handle. Even with detailed documentation, it is hard to get users to replicate the exact environment the tool required.

    In addition, the PhoneGap SDK and project architecture have undergone major changes as the PhoneGap project matured, and it continues to change even now. While these are positive changes, this means our tooling must change as well, adapting to the newer project structures, configuration file formats and CLI behaviors, while maintaining backward compatibility for users who were already developing with older versions of PhoneGap which MyEclipse supported – a difficult task. In some cases, bugs in the PhoneGap SDK make this task harder, with behavior that was different, and buggy, for local and remote builds.

    Working with PhoneGap in MyEclipse 2015

    While we would have liked to continue to support the PhoneGap tooling as it stands in MyEclipse 2015, our experience over the last two years as well as the rapid pace at which the PhoneGap ecosystem is changing, both indicate that this is unfeasible. As we have seen over the past several months, fixes that we make to the PhoneGap tooling don’t work well universally, and still fail frequently when the PhoneGap build system changes.

    If the PhoneGap tooling is working fine for you in 2015, you don’t need to make any changes to your development process. However, if you experience issues, we recommend that you start using the PhoneGap CLI instead of the in-product wizards, and start building your app remotely using the remote PhoneGap build service instead of locally. We believe this will actually give you a more reliable and robust experience with PhoneGap and MyEclipse as opposed to using our in-built tooling.
    Read this document which details how the PhoneGap CLI can be used to add plugins and build your application remotely. While the document does talk about PhoneGap in MyEclipse 2016, its notes on CLI usage apply to 2015 as well.

    In MyEclipse 2016, we have removed our PhoneGap tooling and we will be adding tooling that is focussed more on the app development process, not building specifically. Read our PhoneGap in MyEclipse 2016 announcement here.

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