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Alternatives to Retired Intel XDK Features

Why is Intel Changing the XDK?

Much of the following is also available in the Intel XDK release notes.

Alternatives to the Intel XDK On-line Build Servers

We recommend that you use PhoneGap Build or Cordova CLI to build your Intel XDK mobile apps. The Intel XDK build system creates standard Apache* Cordova* packages, and is compatible with both PhoneGap Build and Cordova CLI. To make it easier to build with these alternatives, we have included a "Cordova Build Package" tool on the Build tab that exports a ZIP file which can be used with PhoneGap Build or with Cordova CLI. See Build with PhoneGap* Build and Cordova* CLI for detailed instructions regarding how to export and build your mobile app with these external tools.

This Scirra Construct2 forum post points to a YouTube video that shows how to use an alternative tool for creating an Android APK signing certificate as well as a video showing how to download and install Node.js and Cordova CLI for building your Cordova HTML5 hybrid apps locally.

Alternatives to the Crosswalk WebView Runtime

As of February, 2017, the Crosswalk Project was retired. Crosswalk 23 was the last version of the Crosswalk library produced; Crosswalk 19 is the last version directly supported by the Intel XDK on-line build system. You can build for the Crosswalk library using Cordova CLI or PhoneGap Build, but no further updates to the Crosswalk library will occur beyond version 23 (FYI: the Crosswalk 23 library for Android is based on Chromium version 53).

We recommend that you build for Android 4.4 or greater and discontinue using the Crosswalk library. Android 5 and later devices use a version of the Chrome for Android web runtime that is regularly updated by Google and provides equivalent performance to the Crosswalk library. Android 4.4 devices are also based on the Chrome for Android web runtime, but cannot be upgraded and are based on either Chromium 30, 33 or 36, depending on the specific version of Android 4.4 on your device. Details regarding the difference between the Chrome webview on Android 4.4 devices and the webview on Android 5 and later devices are available in this Chrome developer FAQ.

To disable the use of Crosswalk in your app, see the Using the Crosswalk for Android Build Option doc page. If you disable the use of Crosswalk in your Intel XDK project settings, those changes will be exported the next time you use the Build with PhoneGap* Build and Cordova* CLI tool to create a ZIP for use with PhoneGap Build or Cordova CLI.

If you want to limit your apps to only target Android 4.4 and later devices, set the "Minimum Android API" number to 19. Setting your apps "Minimum Android API" level to 21 will limit your apps to installation on Android 5.0 and later devices. We recommend setting the "Target Android API" level to 21 (which corresponds to Android 5.0).

IMPORTANT: If you set the "Target Android API" level to 23 or higher (Android 6.0 or higher) and publish that app, you will not be able to publish an update to your app that targets a lower API level (22 or less). This is because the mechanism for managing permissions in Android devices changed significantly with the API 23 release and, for security reasons, the Google Play Store will prevent you from targeting a lower API level in an updated app once you have published that app to explicitly targets API level 23 or higher. 

Targeting API level 23 or higher also requires that any plugins you use with your app that utilize "user permission required APIs" must also employ the new permission APIs that were introduced with API level 23. Thus, unless you are absolutely certain that all of your plugins are compatible with 23 or above, we recommend that you "target" either API level 19 or 21 in your application. Apps that "target" API levels 22 or less can be installed and run on Android 6 and later devices.

Alternatives to the Intel Certificate Management Tool

The Intel XDK certificate management tool no longer supports the creation of new build certificates, it only supports downloading existing build certificates and converting "legacy" certificates into a downloadable format. Follow these PhoneGap Build instructions to create an Android build certificate and this doc which explains how to Convert an Apple developer certificate to a P12 file. Additional information regarding the use of build certificates with alternative build systems can be found in the Build with PhoneGap* Build and Cordova* CLI doc page.

See this forum post for an example of the error messages you will encounter if you attempt to create or import a build certificate with the Intel XDK.

Alternatives to the Retired App Designer UI Layout Editor

There are many UI frameworks and tools available for creating HTML5 UI layouts; too many to enumerate here.

We will not be providing a list of alternatives to the App Designer component; any such list would be incomplete. Many alternatives have a fee associated with their use, a few are free and none are compatible with App Designer. We are not in a position to recommend what is best for you, your app and your needs; that is best left for you to determine.

The vast majority of layout tools that generate standard HTML5 code (HTML/CSS/JavaScript) should work with the Intel XDK and other Cordova tools. The Intel XDK creates standard Cordova CLI (aka PhoneGap) applications, so any UI frameworks and tools that work in the Cordova CLI environment will work with your Intel XDK applications.

Alternatives to the Retired Debug Tab

A complete summary of mobile app debug options are available on the Debug and Test Overview doc page.

We recommend that you use the Simulate tab for basic debugging. You can debug a built Android app directly on-device, with full JavaScript and CSS debugging, by way of remote Chrome* DevTools*. For those who have access to a Mac, it is also possible to use remote web inspector with Safari to debug your built iOS app directly on-device.

Debugging a built app does not require rebuilding your app to test changes or experiment with your code. The best debugging experience will come from taking advantage of the interactive JavaScript console to redefine functions within your app and then run those redefined functions directly from the console or restart your app, in situ, using the window.location.reload() function. An example of using this technique can be seen in this video, starting at about 18:30. The video is demonstrating the use of the weinre debugger, but the debugging techniques can also be applied to remote CDT and remote Web Inspector when debugging a built app.

NOTE: The Intel App Preview app for Android is distributed with the "debug flag" enabled. This means that you can use remote CDT to debug your app within App Preview using a USB connection, as long as you restrict your debugging efforts to code that only interacts with the core Cordova plugins. App Preview does not include any third-party plugins; therefore, you cannot debug any parts of your app that interact with third-party Cordova plugin APIs.

Alternatives to the Retired Hosted weinre Debug Server

You can install the weinre JavaScript console server directly on your workstation by following the instructions in Using Node weinre to Debug Cordova* Apps and connecting your built app to that self-hosted weinre console or from within App Preview. For additional help on using weinre locally, watch Using WEINRE to Debug an Intel® XDK Cordova* App (beginning at about 14:30 in the video).

Alternatives to the Retired Live Development Feature

If you have been using the Run My App feature, we recommend that you use the Simulate tab as an alternative. It is also possible to get on-device JavaScript and CSS debugging for Android devices, by way of remote Chrome* DevTools*.

For those who have been using the Live Layout Editing feature, we recommend using the Simulate tab or the Brackets* Live Preview feature, on which the Intel XDK Live Layout Editing feature is based (the Intel XDK editor is Brackets). The Brackets Live Preview feature utilizes your desktop browser to provide a feature similar to Intel XDK Live Layout Editing. If you use the Google* Chrome browser with Brackets Live Preview you can take advantage of the Chrome device emulation feature to simulate a variety of customizable device viewports.

Other Useful Forum Links:

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3 Replies

Developed since 2014, sad this almost perfect service is going away.

Before using Intel XDK, I used

Went back and see they have improved. Although not fully a replacement, almost as good and in some ways better.

Take a look at the best build service I have found.

Other using the Cordova services of course can be found here.

Valued Contributor I

I am using Node.js, Cordova CLI, Brackets to create and Android Studio and XCode to buld. It is working good. Not so easy as XDK, but works.


Was using PhoneGap Build all this while before using XDK, I guess we're just going back to square one for the time being. I do appreciate anyone reading this comment who could suggest a good alternative to XDK if there is any in the near future.