March 06, 2012

PhoneGap HTML5 Portability II - Chrome Web Store Hosted Apps

Last week I talked about the Chrome Web Store being another good high-traffic outlet for your PhoneGap HTML5 codebase.

One of the first issues I encountered with my Packaged App in this new outlet was with advertising.  The ads displayed just fine, as they do on the main website, except for one thing - for every click, the earnings were always $0.00.  That's not good.  After an exhaustive search, I came across this promising answer, but still, $0.00 every time.

The actual problem was that I was using a Packaged App, which essentially is your entire codebase running locally on the user's machine. It ends up that ads within a Packaged App don't have a "legitimate" source URL, according to AdSense, since it's really just local code on the user's machine.  The Chrome Web Store's alternative to a Packaged app is a Hosted App - which is a link to the URL of your application. 

The Hosted App solution is not only appealing as a valid source to display ads, but from a maintainability standpoint I now have one less place to deploy to.  All I need now for deployment is my manifest file and app icons - the Web Store app just piggybacks on my already-existing website.

Here's a sample manifest file for a hosted app:
  "name": "My Cool App",
  "description": "This is a test of the Chrome Web Store",
  "version": "",
  "app": {
    "urls": [      
      "*:// /mail/",
      "*:// /otherarea/"
      "launch": {
      "web_url": ""
  "icons": {
    "128": "icon_128.png"
  "permissions": [
Note that you need to specify a launch URL, as well as any other non-asset URLs you'll be using.  And you will need to verify that you are the owner of this site using Google's Webmaster Tools.

So the quest for a solution to the AdSense problem sent me down the path of investigating Chrome Web Store "Hosted Apps", which not only resolved my advertising issue, but ended up being a better solution in general for my needs.

 If you're debating which type of app would work best for you, here is a good comparison of Hosted vs Packaged apps

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