PhoneGap/Cordova + Meteor integration approach "DOM hijacking", telling PhoneGap where to get content from, letting Meteor hijack your PhoneGap app's HTML/CSS/JS
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README.md

DEPRECATION NOTICE

Meteor core now supports a better Meteor + Cordova integration approach.

This project was useful while that didn't exist, but Meteor's integration is great, use it.


MeteorRider

An approach for integrating PhoneGap/Cordova + Meteor.

Your Meteor web app (real time everything), inside a Cordova shell (native APIs) = awesome!

How it works

  • Cordova loads it's normal, compiled www/index.html
  • All normal, compiled Cordova JS loads (this ensures Cordova API versions are maintained, decoupled from Meteor)
  • MeteorRider
  • Step 1) loading
  • MeteorRider looks in localStorage to see if we have cached the last requested HTML
  • Step 2) requesting
  • MeteorRider does an AJAX request to your Meteor Server
  • MeteorRider replaces paths in the HTML response to be full URLs
  • (Step 3) replacing
  • MeteorRider replaces the DOM ("hijacking the DOM")
  • MeteorRider stores the HTML for next time's loading screen
  • The DOM loads all the Meteor JS/CSS
  • NOTE that all of Cordova's JS remains in the DOM (from before)
  • future-feature: planning on caching and inlining this
  • Meteor connects via DDP to the Meteor Server

overview

It's Easy

It might sound a bit complex, but really it's pretty simple.

This approach is good for the following reasons

  • The JS needed for whatever version of Cordova is always bundled with Cordova, updating is easy.
  • All Cordova API and Plugins' remain available, because the Cordova JS is loaded first, we just add to it.
  • Once setup you can mostly ignore Cordova and only update your Meteor app, all updates get to the client FAST (no app updating needed)
  • iframes are the devil!

If you want an alternative, without the extra AJAX request try out

  • Pack Meteor is a great way to compile all of what you need to run meteor (client) on Chrome Packaged Apps for Mobile (etc)
  • upside: super-fast, all Meteor assets live local in the Mobile App
  • upside: build script gets all Meteor JS & assets (well managed)
  • upside: chrome APIs available if you do Chrome Packaged Apps for Mobile
  • upside: decent "offline" support
  • downside: slightly more complicated release proccess
  • downside: you have to re-release the mobile application for every update to your Meteor App
  • downside: you have coordinate your entire user base's apps for releases if your app changes (since they have an old version installed)
  • Meteor Cordova Loader is another great alternative, basically a super-lazy-loader option
  • upside: faster initial load, no Cordova initial load screen
  • upside: load script gets all Cordova core & plugin JS from Meteor (well managed)
  • downside: you can basically never update versions of Cordova after release because client versions are unknown
  • downside: like above, you can never add or upgrade a plugin for the same reasons, the client "version" is lost
  • downside: no "offline" support (though, MeteorRider doesn't offer much for that either)

For more info, a comparison of approaches

Example Projects

  • https://github.com/zeroasterisk/MeteorRiderExample0 Cordova 3.5 Android (2 commits)
  • This is a very basic example, showing how easy it is to implement
  • You can edit the URL to the Meteor App and this will work as a totally functional shell for your app
  • You can add platforms like iOS in the normal Cordova way and be up and working on them in seconds
  • https://github.com/zeroasterisk/MeteorRiderExample-CrossWalk CrossWalk + Cordova 3.5 ~ Android (1 commit)
  • Did you know? CrossWalk is the project behind Chrome Packaged Apps for Mobile, taking Chromium to the mobile device (so you aren't stuck with old-ass-WebKit on Android)
  • this is definitely my recommendation for performance on Android
  • You can edit the URL to the Meteor App and this will work as a totally functional shell for your app
  • Only Android :(

Installation / Usage

NPM installer package under consideration see this npm package and this discussion

There are only a couple of files, and you can choose to manage them however you like...

Get the Code

cd tmp
git clone https://github.com/zeroasterisk/MeteorRider.git MeteorRider

On PhoneGap/Cordova - Setup

Option 1) Replace the whole index.html file

You do not have to replace the whole index.html file, but it's a reasonable "fast start".

  • www/js/meteor-rider.js is our tool for getting the Meteor HTML and taking over the DOM
  • www/js/phonegapapp.js is where you setup your application and initializer for MeteorRider
  • has a basic structure for handling events and firing up MeteorRider
  • has a stub for a test switcher, to bypass loading MeteorRider for testing on device only
  • you can override any of this
cd pathtoyourphonegap/assets/www/
cp index.html index_old.html
cp /tmp/MeteorRider/www/index.html index.html
cp /tmp/MeteorRider/www/js/meteor-rider.js js/

Then edit index.html with the appropriate config (see Configuration)

Option 2) Edit the index.html file

There is very little that is "required" to fire up MeteorRider.

This is the minimum you want in your index.html

    <script type="text/javascript" src="js/meteor-rider.js"></script>
    <script type="text/javascript">
      document.addEventListener('deviceready', function() {
          MeteorRider.init("http://leaderboard.meteor.com/");
      }, false);
    </script>

You just need to call MeteorRider.init() when the deviceready Event is triggered.

MeteorRider.config

Here is the default config

config: {
  meteorUrl: '',
  currentPath: '',
  localStorage: true,
  // step 1) loading text
  doLoading: true,
  // step 2) AJAX request
  doRequest: true,
  // step 3) AJAX response (or cache) replacing DOM
  doReplace: true
},

If this is global variable is found, it sets the default config in MeteorRider

var __MeteorRiderConfig__ = {
  meteorUrl:  "http://leaderboard.meteor.com/",
  currentPath: "/",
  localStorage: true
};

You can pass any part of the config into MeteorRider.init() like so:

MeteorRider.init({ meteorUrl: "http://leaderboard.meteor.com/", localStorage: false });

You can also just pass in a string, and it will be treated like the meteorUrl (simplest config)

MeteorRider.init("http://leaderboard.meteor.com/");

MeteorRider.config.meteorUrl (required)

Set the meteorUrl property, it should be the full URL to your meteor app.

NOTE: full public URLs work best. Localhost or internal IPs probably wont work. If Cordova can't load it, it won't work.


On Meteor

You do not have to put anything in Meteor, but if you copy in this startup.js file, it will handle hot code pushes and reload inside PhoneGap/Cordova, without losing the phonegap context.

cd pathtoyourmeteorapp
cp /tmp/MeteorRider/meteor/startup.js startup.js

Obviously, the best bet is to look for the the Cordova APIs directly

if (_.isObject(device)) {
  console.log(device.cordova);
}

You can also look for the MeteorRider JS object inside your Meteor app and use it as a means of basic knowledge about the client, and status.

You can also force the localStorage to be the "loading" screen on the next pageload... (it should be the full HTML you want rendered)

MeteorRider.meteorHtml = '<!DOCTYPE html><html><head>' +
  '<link rel="stylesheet" href="http://leaderboard.meteor.com/6a545450449411b537bd96111c640ce7d7a1092e.css">' +
  '<script type="text/javascript" src="http://leaderboard.meteor.com/9ebe61ab3cb3e1d4bcd16191207b9f1eb692d512.js"></script>' +
  '</head><body>' +
    'My Cool Loading Content Here :)' +
  '</body></html>';

MeteorRider.replaceStoreHtml();

Meteor Packages for PhoneGap/Cordova

There are probably many more than this list, let me know about `em.

OAuth for Meteor + MeteorRider + PhoneGap/Cordova

Sadly this should "just work" out-of-the-box, but as of now, it is frought with peril.

Luckily there is an excellent project alive which is a very easy mrt add phonegap-oauth away.

Check it out here meteor-phonegap-oauth


Common Problems / Tips

PhoneGap/Cordova Issues? Plugin Issues?

  1. Stop MeteorRider (comment it out, or setup testing conditional bypass)
  2. Run whatever you're doing with just index.html and "on device" JS (without Meteor)
  3. Working locally but not with MeteorRider? Enable MeteorRider again and look for a namespace collision...

Not Loading Meteor?

  1. Check the URL, can Cordova get to it?

  2. Try loading a static file from your Meteor URL (from the /public/ folder) as the meteorUrl.

  3. Check the console from Cordova (Android, iOS, etc)

    MeteorRider requesting MeteorRider url: http://example.com MeteorRider response.status = 404

You can uncomment the lines in MeteorRider where it logs the meteorHtml (the HTML content from Meteor).

PhoneGap/Cordova needs to be setup to allow access to Meteor

In older PhoneGap installs or if you've restrictred <access>, may have to allow access to the Meteor app url/domain. Refer to the configuration documentation for your version of PhoneGap.

http://docs.phonegap.com/en/edge/guide_appdev_security_index.md.html#Security%20Guide

<access origin="*" />

In the Wild

Roadmap / Goals

The main goal is to provide a simple, fast, and standardized way to connect PhoneGap to Meteor.

The combination is very powerful, and I have high hope for the future.

Goals:

  • PhoneGap version agnostic (done)
  • Meteor version agnostic (mostly done)
  • Device agnostic (maybe done ? Android and iOS only ones experiemented with)
  • Minimal configuration / setup (done)
  • Package installer

Tasks:

  • invesigate loading just the HEAD data from the AJAX reques
  • invesigate loading the JS files (from Meteor) via AJAX so that we know when completed and could trigger callbacks
  • implement a warning/alerting system for device/connection state (PhoneGap version dependancies?)
  • we may provide a means of setting up an "offline" page

Authors / Acknowledgements

This is the "Option 3" approach I've been thinking about for a while.

Inspiration and collaboration from:

I'd like to thank all of them for communicating with me while figuring out what my options were and for collaboration on this project.

Background:

http://prezi.com/ig9gjm11mwsi/from-zero-to-mobile-web-app-in-sixty-minutes/

http://zeroasterisk.com/2013/08/22/meteor-phonegapcordova-roundup-fall-2013/