Using Visual Studio to develop Cordova apps

Jim Bennett | May 13, 2014

So after yesterdays attempt to create a ‘Hello World’ app using the new Cordova tools for Visual Studio, I thought tonight I’d try again.

If you haven’t heard the news, Microsoft announced a CTP of support for Cordova inside Visual Studio. Thats right, Microsoft is opening up to a world of other devices. The aim is to allow you to build HTML5 apps inside Visual Studio and deploy to Windows Phone, Android and iOS, all from one place (with a networked Mac for iOS building). I guess this might put Adobe’s PhoneGap out of business, but hey, thats how it works when you build a business exposing open source software.

I’m writing this as I go along trying to do a ‘Hello World’ app, and so far not much success.

I’m working through the documentation and here are my experiences:

First I did the basics - I launched Visual Studio and created a new solution using the new Multi Device Hybrid App template. I set up my MacBook Pro to host the remote build and simulation agent, set the build output to be the iOS simulator and hit build. First problem - it couldn’t find Java. It seems the installer didn’t successfully install the Java 7 JDK. One more delay whilst I download and install this.

Once the JDK was installed - I tried building and running again. Next thing I know, up pops Chrome (with the obligatory set your default browser prompt - I use IE as my default simply so I can use a bowser on my surface in Metro mode, oh for Firefox for Metro) running the iOS simulator with my ‘Hello World’ app running. WooHoo!

Now to try the first interesting bit - can I run the app on an iOS simulator on my Mac? Lets set the output on Visual Studio and see what happens! So far so good - things are happening on the Mac’s terminal. And as if by magic:

I’m in shock. No third party paid for components like Xamarin, just an installer from Microsoft that installs open source code and I have an iOS simulator on my Mac running code from Visual Studio. This is groundbreaking stuff (to a techy of course - it didn’t cause my wife to even look up from whatever celebrity gossip site she’s browsing).

Lets take it all the way - lets see if it can run on my iPhone itself.

Seems you can’t have it all - Code signing error. I guess I need to provision my iPhone. BRB!

Time to let a picture paint a thousand words:

Excuse the poor quality shot - it’s late and I couldn’t be bothered to turn the lights up. Thats the same app - the basic Visual Studio Multi Device Hybrid app template built on my Surface using my MacBookPro as a remote build agent, installed using iTunes on the Surface running on my iPhone.

iPhone development has just got a lot easier.
Tomorrow I’ll try adding some code and developing a simple app.