Over the past few weeks, some of our favorite cross-platform tools have made some great strides in providing support for Windows Phone 7 (WP7). It might be easy to shrug this off and say ok great and move on since Windows Phone 7 has struggled to gain traction in the smartphone arena. However with the pending release of Windows 8 in the fall, the Metro interface (and apps for that matter) will grow to expand beyond their phones to stretch across consumer desktops and tablets. This will drive traction for the platform no doubt (now whether that traction is used to get up and go anywhere is up to Microsoft) and now you have the tools to take advantage of it.
Jesse McFadyen (@purplecabbage) who is one of the key contributors to the Apache Cordova project (aka PhoneGap) and overseeing the WP7 implementation, has smashed one of the largest barriers stopping WP7 cross-platform projects and ports. Previous to Apache Cordova version 1.7.0, development was very confusing and difficult do to the lack of mouse gestures in the WP7 WebBrowser control. During his presentation at Microsoft mobile hackathon, he was able to demonstrate interactions with a basic slider component, allowing scroll from some elements, and preventing it from others, finger drawing on a canvas, and running the iScroll4 sample page unmodified to demonstrate momentum scrolling with fixed header + footers. His work vastly impressed the mobile IE team as it solved a major issue they have been well aware of for several months. A tip of the hat is well deserved for Jesse as it is his hard work that progresses cross-platform development. You can read all the details here and can follow his latest development at his blog The RisingJ.
To compliment the Apache Cordova WP7 progress, our friends over at jQueryMobile in conjunction with Microsoft have released a full Windows Phone 7 theme that brings a native look and feel to your cross-platform apps. This goes to show how great architecture and long term strategic thinking pays off when developing a framework. All the “skinning” was done without hackery to the framework and can be switch on and off. In fact Colin Eberhardt has a fantastic write-up on ScottLogic, that shows off some great examples and walks you through and example project where the theme only gets applied if running on a WP7 device! You can find the full announcement and additional examples here.
A toast to the great work by these pioneers of cross-platform development and remember both these projects are open source so feel free to lend a helping hand in paving the road for platform ubiquity.