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Expand Your Mobile Web Presence in the Windows Store With Hybrid Web Apps

Posted on February 19th, 2015

Microsoft Mobile App Developers New Jersey hosted by Nick Landry

02/19/2015 Microsoft New Jersey Office in Iselin, 101 Wood Avenue South, Iselin, NJ

Peter Laudati @Microsoft talked about a technology called Web App Templates (WAT) for creating hybrid (native + web) apps. This approach is currently available for #Windows and #Android development (and will soon be available for #iOS). The approach aims to easily build a local shell app so a web site when accessed through the app looks and feels like a native app (a.k.a. “highly configurable native chrome” app).

The app is most easily developed when the existing web site has a responsive web design, but need not be. WAT allows reformatting of the css tags to customize the page format and creates customized buttons that can be used to access deep links in the site.

Peter demonstrated WAT for Windows which is loaded as a template into a C# project in Visual Studio. The template features a default xaml file (in the config directory) in JSON format which points to the web site and includes sample buttons for share, refresh, pin, and home. The buttons can be customized by changing icons and specifying actions to be performed. Any css tag on the page can be reformatted or hidden locally which can be useful for removing clutter on the smaller mobile screen or enlarging fonts to improve readability or suppress some native functions such as pinch-zoom.

Peter emphasized that this approach is different from that of Apache Cordova, since WAT starts with a pre-existing web application, rather than running html/css/js code locally.

Peter also talked about the weinre debugger for web pages which enables one to debut locally running html/css/js code on a mobile device with the same tools as available when debugging the page on the Chrome browser.

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