PhoneGap CLI

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PhoneGap CLI is an alternative to PhoneGap Build. Technically called Cordova CLI, it has the following advantages:

  • Build takes place on your local machine - no uploading to a service
  • Free - Cordova CLI is open source.
  • No limit on number of projects
  • Use the latest plugins: Sometime developers have newer versions of their plugin that are not in PhoneGap Build yet.
  • Use PlugIns which are not in PhoneGap Build at all.
  • Use custom PlugIns you have developed yourself.

But there are some disadvantages:

  • More complicated to get working (and keep working).
  • More difficult to use
  • More difficult to sign apps for release
  • A Mac is needed to build for iOS (not just for submission to the iTunes Store)

PhoneGap's documentation on the Cordova CLI starts here:

Install Tools

You need to do the following steps:

  1. Install Java SE Development Toolkit (JDK)
  2. Install Android Stand-Alone SDK Tools: This installer will check if you have the Java SE Development Toolkit (JDK) installed - if not, it will prompt you to install it. Full installation will use about 2 gigs of disk space and may take a while to download.
  3. Run SDK Manager.exe. If you start it, it is in /program files/Android/android-sdk. Be sure to right click and start it as Administrator. The SDK Manager is described here. At the time of this Tech Note, Cordova requires that you select the 'SDK Platform' and 'ARM EABI v7a System Image' from Android 5.1.1 (API 22)
  4. Install Node.js
  5. Install git
  6. Install Cordova using a cmd window:
npm install -g cordova

You can test whether the installation by typing the following into the cmd window. It should list a set of Cordova commands:


If all goes smoothly, you should not need to mess with your PATH variables. Otherwise, look at the above linked documents for hints.

Create PhoneGap Project Files

PhoneGap CLI looks for a number of files in your project folder (or elsewhere if you have specified in Preferences). When you start a new project, you need to run a command to initialize the the directories. When you do a deploy from AppStudio, it updates these directories with your code.

To initialize a project so you can use it with PhoneGap CLI, use these commands in your project folder:

cordova create phonegap com.example.helloworld HelloWorld
cd phonegap
cordova platform add android

This will create a phonegap directory in your project and set it to make Android apps. Replace 'helloworld' with the name of your app in the first command.

Add your icon and splash files

If you do not specify an icon, the default PhoneGap icon will be used. You need to add your icon files into the PhoneGap directory. Go into this folder:

 {your project}\PhoneGap\

Add your 'icon' and 'splash' folders to it. The folders which come with the AppStudio PhoneGap samples will work fine until you substitute your own images.

Add your Plugins

In the PhoneGap folder, do this command for each of your plugins:

cordova plugin add cordoba-plugin-camera

The whitelist plugin is added automatically.

Set AppStudio Preferences

In AppStudio, go into the Preferences screen.


The Build Path will default to your project folder. If you initialized PhoneGap as specified in the previous step, you do not need to do anything.

The Build Command will run after the AppStudio saves your project into the phonegap directory. In this case, it will build your app and run it in the Android emulator. The contents of this field are standard command line format.

If you are running on a Mac, you may need to add the path to Cordova to the Build Command, so it can be found. It will then look like this:

export PATH=/usr/local/bin:$PATH&&echo $PATH&&cordova build

Build Your App

From the Run menu, choose "Build Native App with PhoneGap CLI".

Set Build Command in PhoneGap Preferences, or enter from the command line:

cordova build

The apk file will be created in phonegap/platforms/android/build/outputs/apk/android-debug.apk.

The package name is taken from the configxml property.

Running Your App on the Android Emulator

The Android SDK installed the Android Emulator. Using AVD Manager.exe (start as Administrator) you can set up a configuration. It will default to 2048K: if you are running on Windows, change that to a smaller number (like 768). Smaller screens will initialize and run faster.

To rebuild and start from the command line, do

cordova emulate

We don't recommend using the Emulator. It is too slow - the first start of it can take 10 minutes or more. You're better off to have an actual device connected by USB cable: it will load and run your apps quickly.

Run your app on a connected Android device

Use this as your Build Command:

cordova run

To delete existing app

adb uninstall com.nsbasic.HelloWorld

To see system error messages

adb logcat

Terminate an app

adb shell force-stop com.nsbasic.HelloWorld


You can use the Chrome Debugger on your app while your device is connected via a USB cable. You will have to turn on the Debugger on your device, then browse to this location in Chrome: about:inspect

The regular Chrome Debugger will then appear and you will have full control of your app.


If your app uses PhoneGap Plugins, you will have to install them. Go into your project's phonegap directory and open a cmd window. The following commands are for the PhoneGapAPI sample, which uses the Device, Camera, Contacts and Barcode API plugins:

cordova plugin add
cordova plugin add org.apache.cordova.device
cordova plugin add org.apache.cordova.contacts
cordova plugin add com.phonegap.plugins.barcodescanner

The names of the plugins are the same as in the config.xml file.

To see which plugins are installed, enter cordova plugins:

C:\\PhoneGapAPI\phonegap>cordova plugins
com.phonegap.plugins.barcodescanner 2.0.1 "BarcodeScanner" 0.3.4 "Camera"
org.apache.cordova.contacts 0.2.15 "Contacts"
org.apache.cordova.device 0.2.13 "Device"


If you want to make Ajax calls, you need to add a couple of things. First, in the 'PhoneGap configxml' project property, add these lines:

<feature name="" />
<access origin="*" />

This requests permission for your app to access the network, and allows your app to make calls to any domain.

Second, let jQuery know that you will be making calls to outside domains. Add this code to Sub Main:

Sub Main()  'BASIC
  $.support.cors = True
  $.mobile.allowCrossDomainPages = True
End Sub


function Main() { //JavaScript
  $.support.cors = true;
  $.mobile.allowCrossDomainPages = true;

It is also a good idea to make your calls asynchronous, using a callback function when Ajax() returns it value.

Signing Your App For Release

When cordova build is run an apk named CordovaApp-debug.apk is put into:

 {your project}/phonegap/platforms/android/build/outputs/apk/android-debug.apk

To sign the app for release you will first need to make a keystore file. Do this from the command line, in this folder:

 {your project}\phonegap\platforms\android

Now create a file named in the same folder. Enter these lines into this file, replacing HelloWorld with the name of your app and myPassword with the password you used to create the keystore.

Finally, run this command from the command line or in the PhoneGap CLI build command in Preferences:

 cordova build android --release

The standard Cordova CLI release build process will now prompt for the passwords and automatically sign the apk, ready for distribution. CordovaApp-release.apk will be created the same ant-build folder as the debug version.

Additional Notes

Contributed by Jim Ferule

Tech Note Changes: To get images to work correctly:

  1. Make a www folder in the root of the NSBASIC app.
  2. put Images n that directory
  3. In NSBASICAppStudio - point all image sources to www/"imagename".png

Images must be lowercase with no numbers or special characters in their name!

To Get Geolocation permission, or any permissions for that matter, for the app...

  1. Edit the ..\phonegap\platforms\android\AndroidManifest.xml
  2. Within the <application> tag

Add Permissions:

 <uses-permission android:name="android.permission.ACCESS_FINE_LOCATION" />
 <uses-permission android:name="android.permission.ACCESS_COARSE_LOCATION" />

Use this URL as Reference: