Wednesday, December 28, 2011

APEX app running native on iPhone - the details

A (rather long) time ago, I wrote a blog post showing a demo of an APEX application running native on an iPhone. Now, finally, the moment is there to explain how I did it ;-)

The key part of this demo, is the use of PhoneGap. PhoneGap "wraps" any HTML5 code, thereby giving you access to the native API's of your device. This solution is also used by the upcoming ADF Mobile solution, but can already be used now for any HTML5 web application..including your APEX application. 
Start with downloading the PhoneGap sources from their site and install it in your development environment (I used Apple's Xcode) - see the documentation on the PhoneGap site on the how-to. 
Within Xcode, you'll get an index.html, which is the starting point of your application. In this, simplified, example, my index.html only contains the following code:

<!DOCTYPE html>
<html>
  <head>
  <title>APEX DEMO</title>
    <meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width, initial-scale=1.0, maximum-scale=1.0, user-scalable=no;" />
<meta charset="utf-8">
  </head>
  <body onload="window.location.href='http://apex.oracle.com/pls/apex/f?p=ROELSMOBILEAPP';">
    </body>
</html>

So the only thing it does, is a redirect to my APEX application. Nothing more, nothing less.
In the page template of the APEX application I included the phonegap-1.2.0.js script file (currently 1.3.0 is the latest version). 
Before any features can be used, PhoneGap has to be started. In my example, I added a Dynamic Action on Page 0, that runs on Page Load, with as contents
document.addEventListener("deviceready",onDeviceReady,false); 
And from that point on, any PhoneGap feature can be used. In the example in the blogpost mentioned above, I added a button on a form page, that executes the following snippet of Javascript:

var contact = navigator.contacts.create();
var name = new ContactName();
name.givenName = $v('P9_CUST_FIRST_NAME');
name.familyName = $v('P9_CUST_LAST_NAME');
contact.name = name;
contact.save(onSaveSuccess,onSaveError);

function onSaveSuccess( contact ){
   navigator.notification.alert("Contact saved on your device");
}
    
function onSaveError(contactError){
   alert("Error = " + contactError.code);
}


And that's it! When pressing the button, the contact - just the first and last name - is added to your contact list on your device. Of course you can add addresses, telephone numbers etc as well. And use other native device functionalities, like the camera or the compass as well.  See the API documentation for all the details.

The only "problem" will be, that this native iPhone "application" - which is just the index.html file - will never be accepted in the Apple store, just because it hasn't enough content to act on it's own. So you have to build an app with more content, and use your APEX application just to fill in some "gaps". But there are of course more ways to get data from your database to your native application, like web services. 
Please, let me know whenever you get an app in the store with some APEX content!

Happy PhoneGapping!
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