PhoneGap with HAML, SCSS, and CoffeeScript

PhoneGap is an HTML application platform that runs natively on iOS. After the initial project setup, PhoneGap allows you to pretend you are just writing a web application, meaning you spend your day in HTML, CSS and javascript instead of Objective-C.

When I had the opportunity to write a PhoneGap application for a project demo, I decided to take the development process one step further and use the goodness of HAML, SCSS and CoffeeScript instead of straight HTML, CSS and javascript.

Setting up the development environment was relatively simple. I put the source code for HAML, SCSS and CoffeeScript in a similar file tree next to the www directory. I then automated the process of converting the HAML, SCSS and CoffeeScript using a file change monitor to execute conversion scripts whenever a modification occurred.

Below is the layout and tooling I used for the project.

PhoneGap File Layout

├── src
│   ├── coffee_script
│   │   ├── application.coffee
│   │   └── namespace.coffee
│   ├── haml
│   │   ├── helpers.rb
│   │   ├── index.haml
│   │   └── partials
│   │       └── _home.haml
│   └── sass
│       └── main.scss
└── www
    ├── images
    ├── index.html
    ├── javascripts
    │   ├── addons
    │   │   ├── backbone-min.js
    │   │   ├── jquery-1.5.2.min.js
    │   │   └── underscore-min.js
    │   ├── application.js
    │   └── namespace.js
    ├── phonegap.0.9.4.js
    ├── phonegap.0.9.4.min.js
    └── stylesheets
        └── main.css


Ruby and Bundler

Ruby and the ruby gem management tool, Bundler, simplified the dependency setup and scripting necessary for the development environment. Here is a copy of Bundler’s Gemfile I used on the project.

source 'http://rubygems.org'

gem 'haml'
gem 'sass'
gem 'thor'
gem 'watchr'
gem 'sinatra'
gem 'rack'


The ruby gem Watchr monitors system files and executes a block of code when changes are detected. Watchr uses a simple DSL to configure its usage.

watch /src\/.*\.haml/ do |md| `thor convert:haml` end
watch /src\/.*\.rb/ do |md| `thor convert:haml` end
watch /src\/.*\.scss/ do |md| `thor convert:sass` end
watch /src\/.*\.sass/ do |md| `thor convert:sass` end
watch /src\/.*\.coffee/ do |md| `thor convert:coffee` end


We scripted repetitive tasks using the ruby gem Thor.

ROOT =  File.expand_path(File.dirname(__FILE__) + "/..")

class Convert < Thor
  desc "haml", "converts and puts haml in www"
  def haml
    `haml -r #{ROOT}/src/haml/helpers.rb #{ROOT}/src/haml/index.haml #{ROOT}/www/index.html`

  desc "sass", "converts and puts sass in www"
  def sass
    `sass --update #{ROOT}/src/sass:#{ROOT}/www/stylesheets`

  desc "coffee", "converts and puts coffeescript in www"
  def coffee
    `coffee -o #{ROOT}/www/javascripts -c #{ROOT}/src/coffee_script/`

  desc "all", "Convert haml, sass and coffee"
  def all
    invoke :haml
    invoke :sass
    invoke :coffee

  desc "watch", "Start watchr to convert haml, sass and coffee source as it is modified"
  def watch
    invoke :all
    system "cd #{ROOT} && watchr tasks/converters.watchr"


A PhoneGap application at its heart is mostly a web application therefore you can view and rapidly iterate the application using Sinatra, a simple web server, and your favorite web browser.


$LOAD_PATH << File.expand_path(File.dirname(__FILE__))

require 'app'
run Sinatra::Application


require 'sinatra'

set :public, File.dirname(__FILE__) + '/www'

Additional Resources

Here are several links I found useful during my PhoneGap project.