Feb 15

iPhone Web Application frameworks

Have you ever wanted to create a web application for iPhone/iPod touch but didnt want to fiddle with the CSS to make it look right? Well fortunately there are a few different frameworks that you can use to do this.

The Apple way

If you are hip enough to be running a mac, you can use Dashcode, It gives you:

  • Super quick and easy.
  • Drag and drop.
  • RSS
    • Maybe more?
  • Works on iPhone and iPod touch.
    • More then 66% mobile market share in March 2009 probably more today.
  • Does not work on non safari browsers(not even WebKit!).
    • Including Google Chrome!
    • Means 95% of web users cant use your application!
  • Have to learn to use Dashcode.

The other way

Lets face it, Dashcode sucks and most people dont have access to a mac for development. There are a few different 3rd party frameworks available which might be harder to use but give you(the web developer) real control on how you want your content to appear! Here are some frameworks that I have seen or used in the past.

  • iUI. Used it before.
  • CiUI. Cnet’s tweaked version of iUi
  • UiUIKit. This is what its called, I’m not making this up!
  • Webapp.net. Never used but looks promising.
  • QuickConnectiPhone. Not too sure about this.
  • iWebKit. I have used this framework many times. It’s easy to use and allows you to make webapps that look like native apps.
  • jQTouch. jquery with touch! If you want all the bells and whistels like animations, this is the framework for you! I’m looking into using this for a project in the future, I’ll be sure to post what I think of it.

If you don’t know where to start, I would suggest iWebKit or jQTouch, but it won’t be a bad idea checking out the others.

What about Mozilla Firefox?

Some readers will notice that I haven’t mentioned the use of these frameworks on non-webkit browsers like Firefox. I have found that the best frameworks don’t do a very good job at being cross platform due to the fact that they are all trying to save your precious download quota by using the draft WebKit CSS3 functionality to render the gradients and boxes instead of static images.

If your framework of choice is iWebKit, I have extended the css stylesheet to allow FireFox 3.x to render half decently. You can grab the iWebKit_4.6.2 framework here(Its no longer available on its homepage anymore)and the iWebKit 4.6.2 Firefox CSS Style. I am currently working on a iWebKit5 version which has a better structured, I’ll post that here when its ready;).