One weird trick to build multiple Phonegap Apps for Free

- by Chip - the alien

Everyone knows I like anything that's green or gold, but what you might not know is that I never have any of it to give - on account of being an all-consuming alien. When I touch something, I absorb it and so I can only give away free advice and free Apps.

Since there are other starving startups out there, I thought I would share this 100% legal and 100% free way to make multiple private Apps using Phonegap. At least I think it's free and legal - especially for aliens like me... (See for yourself)

Option 1:
You can install Phonegap locally and run it from the Command Line Interface (CLI).

The super Adobe people made it really easy to download - and there are tons of FAQs and Docs online. You can develop in XCode or your favorite text editor. You can edit image, music and other files anywhere too - and then use the CLI to compile the final App. As a programmer, I like this option, but the rest of the team
loves the simplicity of Phonegap Build... Wait, that was the point of this post wasn't it? Whoops!

The whole reason for this trick is to avoid paying a subscription fee, but you might want to know why there's a fee in the first place. PGB lets you use the cloud to build one private App and multiple public Apps for free. The public Apps thing might work for you, but we didn't want our Apps (or source code) out there until they're ready for prime time.

But wait! Adobe has another plan where you can maintain multiple private Apps in one account, but you have to pay a monthly fee. That might make sense if you have 10-25 Apps, but what if you only have 3? There are probably strong benefits to maintaining the Apps in Phonegap Build, but if you already store them elsewhere, then what's the point? Seriously. I actually don't know. I suppose you could maintain multiple accounts, but then you might go crazy as the App count increases.

Option 2:
Moxxy stumbled across this little trick when pressing buttons on the Phonegap Build site. Since you upload a complete zip file for each App anyway, all you have to do is upload it within your existing private App. Sure it changes the name, icon and everything, but who cares - since your code is already maintained somewhere else... remember?

Ok, here's the tricky part: make sure to select separate provisioning files for your different Apps - otherwise they will overwrite each other when installed on the device! You only have to upload them once - and then select the right ones when you're ready to build. Grace had this neat idea: name each signing key based on the App and deployment type (ex: 1Gif-Prod). That way you can easily select the right one later.

Giving Back:
I'm not sure how long this trick will last, especially now that everyone will be using it :) but I really hope Adobe keeps it open. It's just a little marketing expense - and as a result it turns out to be a really smart move - by a great company! I mean, if it wasn't for the sweet tools they've given us and the platforms they support, we might not be here tonight, doing the same thing we do every night: try to take over the world! (btw: that big headed mouse was one of us :) So, I hope that after you get to 5+ Apps and/or begin to make real money, that you pay for a subscription to give back to the community. And while you're at it, do like that Clynton guy and buy other stuff from Mozilla, Apple, Google and Amazon too!

One more thing:
Sam wanted me to mention that our little team of aliens (plus an imaginary Earth friend) is working hard to bring you fun and amazing (free!) Apps. They are available on iOS, Android, Kindle and Firefox (for now) - thanks in large part to Phonegap. You can really help us out by downloading, enjoying and sharing these Apps with friends.

Thanks and keep on C0D1NG!
Chip - the alien.

tl;dr; Upload your zip files to a single private App, then play TicTacToe-Ai or use 1Gif while you wait for the build.
Important: If your Apps overwrite each other when installed, read the full article above for the weird trick that fixes it.

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