Using clusters to build software more quickly is nothing new. But as cloud services and hosting options continue to grow, so too do the available solutions for building software in the cloud. While cloud builds traditionally have been the domain of Electric Cloud and Atlassian’s Elastic Bamboo, new offerings that target mobile devices and PaaSes have arrived to expand build options for developers.

Building software in the cloud makes sense when the compile time becomes prohibitively long, or when the build environment required is fluid and difficult to maintain. To this end, Adobe even moved into the cloud compilation business in September with the release of PhoneGap Build.

But Adobe is not the only company in the PhoneGap compilation business, either. Today, Application Craft announced the public availability of its new PhoneGap build service known as Application Craft Mobile.

Freddy May, founder and CEO of Application Craft, said that his company’s primary product is a Web-based UI and application-development platform, specifically able to deploy to multiple targets such as Android and iPhone.

To that end, May said his team felt it needed to have a product for building PhoneGap applications on its own, rather than rely on Adobe for the service. In three months, Application Craft modified its IDE to replace the one-click Adobe PhoneGap Build options with its own hosted solution.

Why go against a multi-billion dollar company with a system that does essentially the same thing: build PhoneGap applications?

“We got into it because we primarily offer a cloud-based development platform. Imagine Visual Basic in the cloud based on JavaScript. We integrated at the low level with PhoneGap Build so with a single button press people could generate their binaries. We decided we needed to build our own platform, because our users were crying out for plug-ins, like push notifications, barcode scanners and on-device databases. Phonegap Build doesn’t support very many plug-ins at all, and it’s been slow to add them. That was the first indicator that we needed to do something,” said May.

Application Craft Mobile is currently free for developers, even if they did not build their applications with Application Craft. May also stated that Application Craft Mobile allows developers to edit the XML configuration file for builds without having to re-upload entire projects.
Why cloud?
So why, after only a few months in the wild, are there already two similar PhoneGap build and compilation services? This is primarily because PhoneGap users find that maintaining all of the target development environments in a build system is among their biggest problems.