And late one night, I stumbled upon Tiggzi which is a hosted solution that allows you to create mobile apps inside a browser using jQueryMobile UI controls and easily integrates Rest APIs for mobile backends.
Using Tiggzi (and following this video), I was able to create an app that reads QR codes and writes that data to Parse.com (a mobile PaaS back-end, ) in just a few hours.
So, here are my thoughts...
- Easy to work with, no IDE / configuration / Android / iOS SDK required for basic prototyping
- Very easy to integrate bar / QR code reader and to consume REST APIs,
- Testflight style remote app deployment and testing (probably the coolest feature of this service)
- Prompt support
Cons / Limitations:
- Needs better documentation / more content on best practices etc.
- Some UI controls are a little bit unintuitive
- Takes a little getting used to (esp. for folks used to of typical IDEs, like me)
- Will costs real money for making non-trivial apps
Here is the data on Parse.com (The bar / QR codes were read from products / QR generators using an Android phone and written to Parse.com).
And here is the same data inside the emulator.
Summary: Tiggzi is an interesting way to make basic read / write mobile apps, and for a simpler business app it certainly deserves consideration.
However, for apps that need a superior UX (higher visual and interaction fidelity) and a tighter device integration / better performance, Tiggzi may run into the limitations of jQueryMobile controls and constraints of Phonegap itself.