Building Mobile Cordova Apps with Web Starter Kit
If you have no idea what Web Starter Kit is, the simple overview is that it’s a set of opinionated tools that can help you get up and running with web development best practices for a new project. Including a build process, browser sync, live reloading and all sorts of other goodies.
I won’t cover all the features of Web Starter Kit here, but check out the Web Starter Kit site for more info.
Cordova Set-Up & Install
Cordova set-up is nice and simple.
Start by installing the cordova-cli:
npm install -g cordova
Create a brand spanking new project with the command:
cordova create <Project Directory Name> <Package Name> <Project Name>
cordova create my-project com.gauntface.myproject.cordova "My Project"
Then add your platforms of choice (in this case Android).
cd my-project cordova platform add android
Our project directory will now look like this.
Your Cordova project is ready to go, congrats :)
If you want, you can run an emulator with the following command:
cordova emulate android
Or run on a real device with:
cordova run android
Grab Web Starter Kit
To add Web Starter Kit (WSK) into our Cordova app, we need to grab a version of it.
You can grab a copy of Web Starter Kit from here: https://developers.google.com/web/starter-kit/.
This will give you a download button to get a zip of all the files you need.
Extract the zip and copy the resulting folder into the root of your Cordova Project.
Obviously you can leave the filename as is, but I’m going to rename it to plain old web-starter-kit.
We now have hooks, platforms, plugins, www & web-starter-kit directories in our project.
Building Web Starter Kit
There are a few commands you need to run before Web Starter Kit is good to go.
First install the dependencies from NPM.
cd web-starter-kit npm install
You can check everything is working by starting up the server for Web Starter Kit.
Let’s Make Cordova and Web Starter Kit Play Nice
The flow we want here is:
- We run the cordova command to build the Cordova app and run it on an emulator or Android device
- The Cordova project builds the Web Starter Kit project before doing this, which will build a version of the site into the dist directory
- We then copy the contents of the dist directory into www.
This can all be achieved with the magic of Cordvoa Hooks - Oh yes my friends.
Create a directory named before_prepare in the hooks directory. This is a directory Cordova knows to check for script files and run them before packaging up the native apps.
cd ../hooks/ mkdir before_prepare
Next up, create a file in the
before_prepare directory named
wsk_build_copy_script.sh and add the following to the file.
#!/bin/bash echo "Building Web Starter Kit Project."; cd ./web-starter-kit/; gulp; cd ../; echo "Deleting files in ./www"; rm -rf ./www/*; echo "Copying files from ./web-starter-kit/dist to ./www"; cp -r ./web-starter-kit/dist/* ./www/;
Next we need to make sure that the script is executable.
chmod +x ./before_prepare/wsk_build_copy_script.sh
Then check it runs and doesn’t throw any errors:
From now on, whenever you run your project on a device or emulator, this script will execute, ensuring you have the newest version of your app built.
One last thing to check so we know we’re all good.
cordova run android
Cordova’s tools will actually add cordova.js to the projects www directory when building the app, so when you want to use any of Cordova’s features, you just need to reference the cordova.js script in the head of your html page.