Android WebClient

Everywhere you look, you see people extolling the virtues of writing cross-platform, portable HTML5 apps for smartphones so you don't have to port across Android, iOS, Blackberry etc.

But when you actually try to write such an app for Android, you run up against a big snag: There's no way to launch an app packaged as an HTML file! Do you really want to have to open a browser and laboriously navigate to some location in the filesystem every time you want to run your app? I didn't think so.

The only way around this seems to be to write a Java/eclipse wrapper that creates a Java WebView, with Javascript enabled and all the attendant tweaks you need to get a WebView to actually run Javascript -- handling media files, creating dialogs for alert(), and so on.

Even more strangely, there doesn't seem to be a standard/popular app for that. I guess every HTML5 developer is expected to write a new one for each app. WTF?

Anyway, WebClient is a little WebView wrapper I've written to make it easy to maintain your own collection of HTML apps on your Android device. Make a directory called WebClient on your Android filesystem or external SD card. Inside it, make directories with the application name, with an index.html file inside.

In other words, if I had an interactive cosmology textbook and a tic-tac-toe game in HTML and wanted to make them accessible on my Samsung Galaxy's microSD card, I'd put the code in these files (paths are referenced to where Android sees them):


Of course, you can have other files, images, sound files etc. in the same directory.

Here's the latest source: WebClient-2012-05-06.tar.gz

And here's a pre-built apk: WebClient-2012-05-06.apk.

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