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Hybrid App Performance Revelations: Insights from PhoneGap Day US 2016

Posted by on February 11th, 2016


A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to mingle with some brilliant minds at PhoneGap Day US 2016, held this year in Lehi, Utah. The weekend event not only offered the opportunity to get our collective geek on, but also to take in some beautiful scenery, and to fall down a mountain repeatedly (otherwise known as skiing.)

While I was there to talk about automated app testing, I was particularly interested to hear about how my fellow presenters were bringing hybrid app performance to the next level. At the event I had the chance to listen to a few speakers who showed how they got the best out of their respective platforms. I’m thankful for their tips and insights, and below I have shared their presentations.

1. Blending the Best of Native and Web

by Shawn Jansepar

Shawn Jansepar is the director of engineering at Mobify, and specializes in web frameworks and software engineering practices, such as Mobify’s Astro framework for building native apps. His presentation centered on how to blend native and web user interfaces using Cordova and Mobify to create a seamless user experience. He noted the challenges faced by industry pioneers integrating and creating web UI based apps, and helped to illustrate that the majority of these challenges stemmed from leaning too far in one direction or the other. By focusing on the advantages of each platform, Shawn helped to illustrate how a hybrid application can achieve strong performance benchmarks while remaining flexible and adaptive enough to meet changing user needs.

2. Hybrid Apps with Ember

by Alex Blom

Alex Blom is an experienced programmer who began with Java and C, and now works with Ruby on Rails, Go, and Ember. As a partner at Isle of Code, he has been able to work with numerous Toronto and Chicago clients, focusing on prototyping, single-sourcing Ember.js, Cordova, and iBeacon efforts. Alex’s presentation focused on getting the best out of the Ember.js platform and Cordova, including tips for avoiding memory leaks, managing reflows, and numerous other hacks to improve your hybrid deployment.

3. ReactJS with PhoneGap

by Jed Watson


Jed Watson of Thinkmill, creator of several major github open source projects, including KeystoneJS, TouchstoneJS, and Elemental UI, presented a demo app highlighting the abilities of Node.js integrated with Cordova. The app in question was a rebuild of a “picture tour app” in which the user is guided through a walking tour of the city. Hints were presented in images, and location-aware code would unlock the next image as you reached the intended location. Jed used a similar app to guide his wife to a planned proposal location in 2012. By allowing users to access the github repository, play with the app, and view the code, Jed helped to highlight key strengths of hybrid development through these platforms.

4. Ionic V2 and Beyond

by Mike Hartington

Mike Hartington serves as developer advocate for Ionic, and has used the framework since its alpha version. Mike has long been an evangelist for the Ionic platform, managing the Ionic Forum, serving as a resource to developers, creating demos using various APIs, and writing technical documentation. Highlighting the successes and strong industry influence of the original ionic platform, Harrington shared with the PhoneGap Day audience how the Ionic platform is set to evolve and adapt to the changing mobile market, notably the improved power, performance, and increased capabilities of today’s baseline devices, the wider availability of web APIs, and new browser engines. Some of the key changes to the revised Ionic platform include:

  • Use of element properties to keep your markup clean and simple, while retaining the ability to use CSS classes
  • Navigation will no longer be tied to URLs (push/pop Navigation)
  • Creativity improvements:
    • Sass: enabled by default and easier to add/remove colors
    • Animations: Web animations API, friendly CSS syntax, interactive control
  • Leveraging key Javascript ES6 improvements

I had high expectations going into the PhoneGap event, and it still managed to exceed them in every way. I look forward to next year, and hope to learn more from my colleagues. Until then, stay tuned, as I’ll be sharing my own contributions to the event soon.

martin_poschenrieder About the author:
Martin Poschenrieder has been working in the mobile industry for most of the past decade. He began his career as an intern for one of the few German handset manufacturers, years before Android and iPhone were launched. After involvement with several app projects, he soon realized that one of the biggest pain-points in development was mobile app testing. In order to ease this pain, he started Testmunk. Testmunk is based in Silicon Valley, and provides automated app testing over the cloud.
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