Firefox OS taps into Cordova for easier Web-app development

Developers writing apps using the Cordova software foundation now can reach Mozilla's browser-based operating system as well as Android, iOS, Windows Phone, and BlackBerry OS.

Firefox's App Manager is here used in conjunction with Cordova, a tool for cross-platform mobile programming using Web standards.
Firefox's App Manager is here used in conjunction with Cordova, a tool for cross-platform mobile programming using Web standards. Mozilla

Any new mobile operating system faces challenges attracting developers -- even a browser-based one like Firefox OS that can take advantage of the fact that there are already countless Web developers.

Which is why it's notable that Firefox OS now works with Cordova, an Apache Software Foundation project that eases the difficulties developers have getting apps to work on multiple operating systems.

"Over the past few months, Mozilla has been working with the Cordova team to integrate Firefox OS into the Cordova framework, making it possible to release Cordova apps on the Firefox OS platform," Mozilla developer team members Jason Weathersby, James Long, Piotr Zalewa, and Frederic Wenzel said in a blog post Thursday.

Cordova is a natural fit for Firefox. It's a software framework that lets developers write Web-app software -- the kind that's based on Web standards like HTML, JavaScript, and CSS -- and then package it up as a native app for iOS, Android, Blackberry, Windows Phone, Tizen, or Ubuntu Touch. The Cordova software lets those Web apps tap into native-app interfaces for things like the camera, contacts list, geolocation service, or accelerometer.

With Firefox OS support, a programmer using Cordova can target Firefox OS phones, too.

The news comes just ahead of Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, at which Mozilla will detail new efforts to spread its year-old mobile browser. Firefox OS has attained a small purchase on low-end phones but faces competition from Android in particular.

Cordova has its roots in a project called PhoneGap that Adobe Systems acquired in 2011. It released it as the open-source software Cordova project under the purview of the Apache Software Foundation, which houses many open-source projects.

About the author

Stephen Shankland has been a reporter at CNET since 1998 and covers browsers, Web development, digital photography and new technology. In the past he has been CNET's beat reporter for Google, Yahoo, Linux, open-source software, servers and supercomputers. He has a soft spot in his heart for standards groups and I/O interfaces.


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