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Lowering the iPhone Development Barrier

Apple's iPhone has become the "cool" platform in the development world, especially with the introduction of the App Store, where developers have been raking in the dough by selling their applications for only a few dollars. When the iPhone was initially released, Apple touted that the development platform was simply the "web", so developers had to use traditional web technologies - XHTML, CSS, and JavaScript - to develop iPhone applications, which ran through Safari. This worked, except for that the applications were slow (because EDGE is slow) and there was no way to tap into the hardware abilities of the iPhone. After months of begging for a real SDK, Apple listened to developers and released an iPhone SDK, which has led to a burst of iPhone applications.

However, in all this transition to a real SDK, the people left out were the web developers. Personally, I am not very good at computer programming; my platform is the web. I liked the idea of using web technologies to develop iPhone applications, because it gave me the opportunity to use my current knowledge to make iPhone applications in the future. Granted, I probably never would have developed and never will develop anything for the iPhone, but if a client asked about it, I wouldn't have had to learn something new necessarily.

I was quite bummed personally when the SDK was released because my skills were no longer useful for developing iPhone applications. Of course, from a consumer point of view, the SDK has made my iPhone about ten times as useful with the wide variety of apps that I use. However, PhoneGap attempts to make web development technologies once again useful on the iPhone. PhoneGap (external link) is a framework that allows developers to access the iPhone SDK features from HTML and JavaScript. You use PhoneGap to package your "web" app into a native iPhone app that you can then (attempt) to sell in the App Store.

PhoneGap reminds me of Adobe AIR, which enables you to use web technologies to develop desktop applications. These sort of frameworks enable web developers to take their skills to other platforms, in these cases the iPhone and the desktop respectively. One nice thing about PhoneGap and Adobe AIR is that HTML, CSS, and JavaScript are all much easier to use for developing applications than C, C++, Java, etc. The difficulty in developing desktop applications is one reason I was driven into web development, where your ideas become reality simply much faster.

If you are looking to develop the next cool iPhone application and want to use traditional web technologies, then check out PhoneGap and don't stress yourself over trying to learn C and the iPhone SDK.