Sunday, 1 December 2013

Script your build and deployment of android cordova apps with powershell

We are developing a new version of our customer facing solution, across web, ios and android, using cordova(phonegap).

Im a big proponent of build automation, and the classical (recommended?) way of using eclipse to build and manage the code base was getting me down, so i decided to write some scripts to build and deploy the app to either a device, an emulator or prepare for release. I also wanted any developer to be able to checkout the code and run the scripts to build the app.

I wrote the scripts in powershell (sorry!) with some batch files to make the various functions easy to run (im developing on windows 8 by the way).

You can find the scripts here:

So how does it all work?

firstly it goes with out saying that you need your dev env set up for android development on the command line with cordova

As you will know (if you do cordova development) when you use the command line tools for creating cordova apps the folder created is where all your source code is placed and inside there is the www folder that is where you keep your .js and .html files. The problem is that you are keeping your source code along side the automatically built cordova files, not ideal. so I've created my own source folder that is where all the code you edit is kept. We then use powershell to copy these files to the correct places.

The development process

In a powershell (or dos cmd if you prefer)

emulate.bat or install.bat

Line 01. run either or, depending on if you are using a real device or not

That's it. Now you might notice that build can take a wile to run because its setting up everything from scratch so i created a shortcut that will only copy your changes across.

emulate.bat or install.bat

This is all good for general day to day dev but eventually you will want to test a production build on a real device for this use the following commands


To make this work you must only have either a device plugged into usb or an emulator turned on (please use genymotion its so much faster than a standard emulator)
The release process signs and aligns your apk for you :-) so when you are ready you just send the apk you have tested to the play store.

The scripts

Here I'm going to show select lines of code from build.ps1

For building the app in debug and getting that on to your emulator or phone

function create()
cordova create app-cordova-android myapp
cordova platform add android
cordova plugin add org.apache.cordova.device

function build()
cordova build android
function emulate()
cordova emulate android -d
function installDebug()
cordova run android -d

To build the releaseable apk and to get that onto your phone use the following:

function release()
cordova build android --release
function sign()
jarsigner -verbose -sigalg SHA1withRSA -digestalg SHA1 -keystore ..\appstore\android-keystore\myapp -keypass myappKeyPassword -storepass myappStorePassword -signedjar .\platforms\android\bin\myapp-release-signed.apk .\platforms\android\bin\myapp-release-unsigned.apk myapp
zipalign -f -v 4 .\platforms\android\bin\myapp-release-signed.apk .\platforms\android\bin\myapp-release-signed-aligned.apk
function installRelease()
adb uninstall
adb install .\appstore\APKs\myapp-release-signed-aligned.apk

Release versioning

When doing a release to the play store you need to make sure the version numbers are incremented each time, for this i added a helper which will update all the relevent places in the source for you.

just run:

setVersion 102 1.0.2

This will change all the files that need changing in order to properly put a new version of the app onto the play store.

Upload to play store error
Upload failed
You uploaded a debuggable APK. For security reasons you need to disable debugging before it can be published in Google Play

Make sure your manifest is set thus:

<application android:debuggable="false" android:hardwareAccelerated="true" android:icon="@drawable/icon" android:label="@string/app_name">


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