One reason to use PhoneGap is to develop for multiple mobile platforms easily, but do you really want to create a separate development environment for each platform? I thought not.
Once you've developed a working application with PhoneGap, the next challenge to overcome is taking that code to the next platform of choice. One way to do it is to create a new development environment for each platform, but another way is to use the PhoneGap:Build service to build the cross-platform binaries for you.
The easiest way to get started is to create an account at PhoneGap:Build, start the new app process, and upload your application as an archive or pull it from a git repository.
Now go make a cup of coffee/tea, and wait for the compiling to complete. When done, the following formats are available to download:
Because I have not linked my PhoneGap:Build account with an Apple developer account's signing credentials, the iOS application has not been built.
I have a toy Android application that I've been working on as a follow-up to a previous article on setting up an Android/PhoneGap development environment; I put it up on the site as my one free private app and installed it on Symbian.
Much to my surprise, the application loaded and sort-of works. It's not without rendering bugs that I haven't debugged, because it is Symbian; and while its no shock to see that the functionality of the speech-to-text and text-to-speech libraries that I made use of in Android is missing, the fact that it didn't crash the application is good.
There is also an API available to automate the process of uploading, building, and downloading applications.
If you have a simple PhoneGap app and you want to go cross-platform, there's a chance that PhoneGap:Build could work for you in production, but I'd be genuinely surprised if it did.
For an experience where, for minimal effort, a working package is returned in rapid time, it's hard to go past the service as a tool that lets a developer know how their application functions on a particular platform, and where the gaps in it lie.