Cordova is still not dead in 2024 - My personal take

TLDR: We ran a survey to identify problems and find out if and where users migrate to. The results are quite positive. People who responded mostly stay and like Cordova, but share a few pain points.

What is Cordova again, and why do I care?

Please have a look at my State in 2022 blog post to get more context.

If you are reading this you probably already know what Apache Cordova is and why I am writing about it. Cordova is a framework/toolset to build cross-platform apps (for Android and iOS these days) with standard web technologies. Cordova as an Apache project is about 12 years old now and its origins Phonegap are even older. At Apache, projects are managed by a project management committee (PMC).

Disclaimer: I am part of the Apache Cordova PMC (maintainer team). This post is my personal opinion and assessment of Cordova’s past, current and future state. This is not an official statement of the Apache Cordova project. Take it with a grain of salt. I am very open for discussions.

What is the state of Cordova in 2024?

From my perspective the activity in Cordova development has been consistent for many years now. It might look slow and low activity from the outside, but the important things are getting done and there are some very dedicated people using and maintaining the project.

A great announcement in 2023 was the nomination of Bryan Ellis (erisu) as PMC chair. Bryan and I have been working together on Cordova since day one of my PMC membership, and he was to the one introducing me to everything in the project. We have become good friends and I think he is absolutely the best person for the PMC chair role. Bryan is one, if not the most active code contributor, and has a very good overview of the whole project. A PMC chair has only a few more duties than all other PMC members, but it’s good to have Bryan in charge of the Board reports, and it’s a sign of respect for his years of service for the project.

End of 2023 we ran a community survey with many questions I had for years. This survey made some pictures in my head clearer and painted a picture of small but enthusiastic community that loves the project. For me one of the most burning questions in the survey was “Have you migrated apps from Cordova to alternative solutions?”. Capacitor has been around for a while and for most projects it’s pretty easy to migrate from Cordova to Capacitor. Of course the survey is biased because it’s been promoted only in the Cordova community, but I still expected a higher number of users who migrated. Therefore, I assume the usage of Cordova continue and everyone who has not migrated yet will stay and is probably happy about Cordova.

The survey also highlighted some pain points the project really should address. There are some good ideas out there, and I hope some can be picked up but dedicated contributors. But that is probably not easy with the limited resources and complexity for some issues because of Cordovas long history and need for compatibility.

I personally think we urgently need more dedicated PMC members. For maintenance and especially for release voting it shows that only few members are able to actually take time to prepare and check releases. Some releases have taken way too long. The ASF requirements for releases and minimum wait times can slow it down, but I think they are a good thing and require a bit more caution and planning. Most of the slowdowns probably are because of the lack of developer power. If only one person is doing the work, and they are waiting for review and responses from others it can be tiresome.

WebView community group at W3C

The W3C WebView community is working on collecting issues & use-cases for WebViews. Fortunately I could join the group through the Apache Software Foundations membership and share our usage of WebViews in Cordova. The group had little activity in 2023 but in November the W3C staff reached out to me and asked me if I would co-chair that group. I was a little surprised, but I’m very happy to work together with other users and WebView providers on new ideas and old issues. I’m excited to see how the group grows and the positive impact we can make together. If you’re passionate about WebViews we encourage you to join our community group to bring your perspective in this space.

Overall the survey and talking to people about WebViews gives me very positive impression. The Web is still the best platform for many applications in my opinion and Cordova still fills a useful role. But there is lots of work to do. A large portion of bug fixes, plugins and features have been provided by dedicated individuals. You can contribute to Cordova’s future success with your fixes, solutions, plugins and collaboration on releases.