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Benjamin Stein

Building Cross Platform Mobile Apps with Ruby & PhoneGap


Surging popularity for rich mobile applications has left many once cutting edge Ruby developers feeling left behind. Developing for Android, the iPhone, and Blackberry requires completely different skill sets (Objective-C, Java, and new APIs). And just serving up a lite version of your customer’s web site is only a half-baked solution.

Consider this alternative technology stack for mobile devices:

  • The WebKit rendering engine on phones lets you build applications with standard HTML, CSS and Javascript. Web content can live locally, remotely, or both.
  • The HTML 5 specification gives you local persistent storage via a Javascript interface to SQLite.
  • The PhoneGap project (http://phonegap.com) exposes all the new exciting mobile features (GPS, accelerometer, phone, vibration, sound) through a common Javascript API.

Now Rubyists can create “native” mobile applications for all 3 platforms simultaneously using their favorite web development tools. And all the business logic can be served directly from their RESTful Rails application!


Benjamin Stein is the co-founder and CTO of Mobile Commons, a mobile technology company focusing on SMS & voice applications. He is active in the New York City Ruby community and a contributer to a number of open-source Ruby libraries.