Native Controls

Native Controls (alpha; iOS 7 only for now)
Kerri Shotts1.1.014
platforms: ios
$ cordova plugin add com.photokandy.nativecontrols


@author Kerri Shotts @email @version 1.1.0

Implements some basic native controls for iOS. This library should be considered "alpha" release, since it's very new. It supports iOS 7 with partial support for iOS 6. Keep in mind that iOS 6 often renders with very different intents than iOS 7, and the plugin makes no effort to ensure the same visual semantics. That is to say that a tintColor on a navigation bar in iOS 6 affects the background color while on iOS 7 it affects the foreground color. Or, on iOS 6, the navigation bar needs to start at y- offset zero, while on iOS 7, it needs to start at y-offset 20.

The library has been designed so as to be simple to code against: generally you don't need to worry about a lot of asynchronous code except for event-handling. It's also somewhat iOS-centric, so although the protocol could easily be implemented for another platform, the lingo is iOS-inspired.

The license is MIT, so feel free to use, enhance, etc. If you do make changes that would benefit the community, it would be great if you would contribute them back to the original plugin, but that is not required.


Permission is hereby granted, free of charge, to any person obtaining a copy of this software and associated documentation files (the "Software"), to deal in the Software without restriction, including without limitation the rights to use, copy, modify, merge, publish, distribute, sublicense, and/or sell copies of the Software, and to permit persons to whom the Software is furnished to do so, subject to the following conditions:

The above copyright notice and this permission notice shall be included in all copies or substantial portions of the Software.



Available on Github. Contributions welcome!

Minimum Requirements

  • Cordova 2.9 or higher (tested 3.3, 3.4)
  • iOS 6 (partial; no attempt is made to reconcile visual semantics)
  • iOS 7


Add the plugin using Cordova's CLI:

cordova plugin add com.photokandy.nativecontrols


All interaction with the library is through window.nativeControls.


Rects are used when you need to specify the frame for a native control. A frame is simply the position and size of a native control on the screen.

The Rect method takes four parameters: x and y coordinates for the top-left corner of the frame and w and h values indicating the size of the frame. An object of the form {origin: {x: #, y: #}, size: {w: #, h: #}} is returned.

var aRect = window.nativeControls.Rect (10, 50, 100, 200);

The above rectangle indicates a rectangle with the top left corner at (10, 50) and a bottom right corner at (110, 250).

If you want to copy a value of type Rect, you can do so as follows:

var aCopy = window.nativeControls.Rect (aRect);

Note: You aren't required to use window.nativeControls.Rect as long as you pass in an object of the above form.


Colors are used when you need to specify the color of an item. Instead of passing hex colors (like #204080), the red, green, blue, and alpha components are passed. Alternatively, a few predefined colors can be passed as a string (like BLUE).

Four parameters are required unless a predefined color is used -- the first three specify the red, green, and blue values, and range from 0 to 255. The last value specifies the alpha value, and ranges from 0.0 to 1.0.

The returned object is of the form {r: #, g: #, b: #, a: #}.

var aBlueColor = window.nativeControls.Color ( 0, 0, 128, 1.0 );
var aRedColor = window.nativeControls.Color ( 'RED' );

If you want to copy a Color value in order to modify it, you can use this:

var aColorCopy = window.nativeControls.Color ( aBlueColor );

Note: You aren't required to use window.nativeControls.Color as long as you pass in an object of the above form.

Predefined colors

  • Clear
  • Black
  • Blue
  • Green
  • Red
  • DarkGray
  • Gray
  • LightGray
  • White
  • Cyan
  • Yellow
  • Magenta
  • Orange
  • Purple
  • Brown

If you want to define other colors, you can use the following:

window.nativeControls.colors.darkred = window.nativeControls.Color(127, 0, 0, 1.0);
var aDarKRedColor = window.nativeControls.Color ("darkred");

Note: the property on colors must be lowercase. When calling Color, the case does not matter.

Native Controls

All native controls are based on a NativeControl class that is initialized with the type of control you wish to create. This can be done by calling any of the native control creation methods:

  • NavigationBar
  • NavigationItem
  • BarButton (deprecated; do not use)
  • BarTextButton
  • BarImageButton
  • ToolBar
  • MessageBox
  • ActionSheet
  • Button

For example, you can create a BarTextButton using

var aButton = window.nativeControls.BarTextButton();

When you are done with a native control, you should always destroy it, otherwise your app will leak resources. Destroy it as follows:



Regular buttons can be positioned anywhere on the screen, and can display text, images, or both. Bear in mind that they will not track with the scroll of the underlying webview. On iOS 7 there is no border or background while on iOS 6, the button has a white background with a rounded border.

var aButton = window.nativeControls.Button();

In order to display, a button must have at least a title or an image in addition to a frame:

aButton.title = "Button";
aButton.image = "path/to/image"; // no .png or @2x
aButton.frame = window.nativeControls.Rect(100,100,144,44);

Images will use "@2x" retina assets automatically if provided, and will scale them appropriately if @1x retina assets are not provided. If the image is in the www/img directory, or a subdirectory, refer to it like so:

aButton.image = "/www/img/book";

To show a button, add it to the view:


To respond to a tap, listen for the tap event:

aButton.addEventListener ( "tap", function () { /* button tapped */ } );
  • frame <Rect> - the location and size of the Button
  • image <String> - the path to the image. On iOS 7, will be colored with the tintColor; on iOS 6, the image is rendered as-is.
  • title <String> - the name of the Button
  • tintColor <Color> - Color for the Button text/icon Not Supported on iOS 6
  • destroy - destroys the control
  • addToView - adds the button to the web view
  • removeFromView - removes the button from the web view
  • addEventListener (event, handler) - adds an event listener to the button
  • removeEventListener (event, handler) - removes an event listener from the button

Buttons support quite a few events. You can attach a listener using addToEventListener.

Events supported:

Bar buttons

Bar buttons can be added to NavigationItems and ToolBars. They can be a text label or an icon. They will be tinted with their parent container's tint color (unless overridden).

In the example below we create a text and image bar button. Notice that we specify the type of content (text or image). Once done, you must not assign an image to a text bar button or the reverse. If you do, you may encounter strange layout issues.

var button1 = window.nativeControls.BarTextButton();
button1.title = "Add"
var button2 = window.nativeControls.BarImageButton();
button2.image = "/path/to/image" // no .png or @2x

In order to respond to a button tap, you can attach an event handler:

button1.addEventListener ( "tap", function (evt) { ... } );

You can also remove event listeners when you no longer need to respond to the event.

Images will use "@2x" retina assets automatically if provided, and will scale them appropriately if @1x retina assets are not provided. If the image is in the www/img directory, or a subdirectory, refer to it like so:

button3.image = "/www/img/book";
  • title <string> - the title of the button (only on BarTextButtons)
  • image <string> - the image for the button (only on BarImageButtons). On iOS 7 colored by tintColor; on iOS 6, the image is used as-is.
  • tintColor <Color> - the tint color of the button not supported on iOS 6
  • addEventListener (event, handler) - adds an event listener to the button
  • removeEventListener (event, handler) - removes an event listener from the button
  • destroy - destroys the control
  • tap - fired when the button is tapped.


This will create a navigation bar at the top of the window with a white background and a red tint color (for any buttons) on iOS 7:

var navigationBar = window.nativeControls.NavigationBar();
navigationBar.tintColor = window.nativeControls.Color ( "red" );
navigationBar.barTintColor = window.nativeControls.Color ( "white" );

Navigation bars can be re-oriented on the screen:

navigationBar.frame = window.nativeControls.Rect ( 320, 20, 768-320, 44 );

Navigation bars in iOS 7 usually carry translucency (blurring of the background); this can be turned off if desired:

navigationBar.translucent = false;

Note: your content is not moved out of the way of the navigation bar. You need to apply the appropriate padding, margins, or positioning in order to keep your content out of the way. The benefit here is if you allow the content to scroll under the navigation bar, you can inherit the translucent effect present in iOS 7.

Second note: For iOS 7, your navigation bar must be at the y position of 20. The plugin properly extens the navigation bar beyond the scroll bar for you. This means the height should be 44 pixels. On iOS 6, the y position should be 0.

  • barTintColor <Color> - the background color of the navigation bar; not supported on iOS 6
  • tintColor <Color> - the tint color of the buttons on the bar for iOS 7; background color on iOS 6.
  • textColor <Color> - the text color; not supported on iOS 6
  • frame <Rect> - the location of the navigation bar on screen
  • translucent <boolean> - indicates if the navigation bar is translucent or opaque; not supported on iOS 6
  • addToView - adds the navigation bar to the web view
  • removeFromView - removes the navigation bar from the web view
  • push ( NavigationItem ) - pushes a NavigationItem onto the bar
  • pop - pops the currently visible NavigationItem off the bar
  • destroy - destroys the control
  • None


NavigationBars by themselves aren't terribly interesting. In order to display text or controls, you need to create a NavigationItem:

var navigationItem = window.nativeControls.NavigationItem();
navigationItem.title = "View Title";

At this point, one can add BarButtons to the left or right side:

navigationItem.leftButtons = [ button1, button2 ];
navigationItem.rightButtons = [ button3, button4 ];

After adding buttons, it can be pushed onto a navigation bar:

navigationBar.push ( navigationItem );

If further NavigationItems are pushed, a back button appears with the title of the previous NavigationItem. The user could pop it manually (by pressing the back button), or it can be popped programmatically:

navigationBar.pop ();

Note: When pushing and popping NavigationItems, be careful not to do anything else with a NavigationBar or NavigationItem during the animation process, or you will corrupt the view hierarchy. As iOS animations are fixed-duration, it's best to delay about 400ms (perhaps even a little longer) to get around any animation.

Navigation items can fire events when they are popped and pushed with the pop and push events.

  • title <String> - the name of the NavigationItem
  • leftButtons <Array of BarButton> - Array of BarButtons to display on the left side of the NavigationItem
  • rightButtons <Array of BarButton> - Array of BarButtons to display on the right side of the NavigationItem
  • destroy - destroys the control
  • push - fired when this NavigationItem is pushed onto a NavigationBar
  • pop - fired when this NavigationItem is popped from a NavigationBar (or when a user taps the back button on a NavigationItem)


ToolBars can be created like this:

var toolbar = window.nativeControls.ToolBar();
toolbar.buttons = [button1, button2];
toolbar.tintColor = window.nativeControls.Color ("blue");

Toolbars can also be positioned by changing their frame property.

  • tintColor <Color> - The tint color for any BarButtons on iOS 7; background color on iOS 6;
  • buttons <Array of BarButton> - Array of BarButtons to display in the center of the ToolBar
  • frame <Rect> - the location of the tool bar on screen
  • addToView - adds the tool bar to the web view
  • removeFromView - removes the tool bar from the web view
  • destroy - destroys the control
  • None

MessageBoxes, Input boxes, and ActionSheeets

These are lumped together, because although they are presentationally different (on iPhone), they are very similar logically.

A message box can be created as follows:

var messageBox = window.nativeControls.MessageBox();
messageBox.title = "Title of the message";
messageBox.text = "Are you sure?";
messageBox.addButtons ( [ "Yes", "No", "Cancel" ] );
messageBox.cancelButtonIndex = 2; // zero-based
messageBox.addEventListener ( "tap", function ( evt ) { console.log ( ); } );;

Message boxes can be hidden by calling hide -- any event handler will be called with the cancel button index.

Alert boxes are created very similarly, except they don't support the text property. Furthermore, they add an additional property called destructiveButtonIndex that can be used to specify which button will have a destructive effect, like so:

var actionSheet = window.nativeControls.ActionSheet();
actionSheet.title = "Title of sheet";
actionSheet.addButtons ( [ "Delete", "Share", "Cancel" ] );
actionSheet.cancelButtonIndex = 2;
actionSheet.destructiveButtonIndex = 0;;

Input boxes are Message boxes with a different alertType:

messageBox.alertType = "input" // or secureInput, default, userNameAndPassword
messageBox.inputText = "default text";
messageBox.passwordText = "default password"; // only if userNameAndPassword

Input boxes can fire additional events: inputChanged and passwordChanged. They also pass along the contents of the input fields when a tap occurs. Currently only supported on iOS 7; will crash on iOS 6.

messageBox.addEventLister ( "tap", function ( evt )
  var data = JSON.parse(atob(;
  var buttonPressed = data.buttonPressed;
  var inputText = data.values[0];
  var passwordText = data.values[1];
  • title <String> - The title of the alert
  • text <String> - Secondary text of the alert; valid only for messageBox (not actionSheet)
  • cancelButtonIndex <Integer> - specifies which button is the cancel button; zero-based
  • destructiveButtonIndex <Integer> - specifies which button is destructive; zero-based. Only available for actionSheets
  • type <String> - specifies the type of MessageBox; one of default (normal MessageBox), input (MessageBox with one input field), secureInput (MessageBox with one input field that masks characters), and userNameAndPassword (MessageBox with a username field and password field). Only available for MessageBox
  • inputText - sets the default text for a MessageBox with an input field; only available for MessageBox
  • passwordText - sets the default password for a MessageBox with username and password fields; only available for MessageBox
  • show - displays the alert
  • hide - dismisses the alert; any handler is called indicating that the cancelButtonIndex button was tapped
  • destroy - destroys the control
  • tap - fired whenever a button is tapped or the alert is dismissed. The button tapped is specified in the data field of the event (zero-based). For MessageBoxes having data fields, the data field of the event object is a Base64-encoded JSON object of the following form:
{ buttonPressed: #,
  values: [ textField1 [,textField2 ] ]


Communication from JavaScript over the native bridge are queued internally. The queue only processes one command at a time and executes commands in the order they were queued.

Commands can be enqueued by calling window.nativeControls.queueExec with the following parameters:

  • The native control
  • The command (string)
  • Command data
  • success handler (optional)
  • failure handler (optional)

The queue is processed whenever queueExec is called and as long as there are items in the queue. Commands are then sent over to the native side by using cordova.exec passing PKNativeControls and handleOperation as the method call. Data passed includes the control's class, unique ID, the command, and the command data.

The native side receives these values and acts on them according to the type of control, the control's unique ID, and the command. If the operation is successful, the succes handler is called. If the operation fails, the failure handler is called.

Control Classes and Supported Commands

Command NavigationBar NavigationItem BarButton ToolBar MessageBox ActionSheet Buttons
addToView X - - X - - X
addButtons - - - - X X -
create X X X X X X X
destroy X X X X X X X
getFrame* X - - X - - X
getInputText* - - - - X - -
getPasswordText* - - - - X - -
hide - - - - X X -
pop X - - - - - -
push X - - - - - -
removeFromView X - - X - - X
setBarTintColor X - - X - - -
setButtons - - - X - - -
setCancelButton - - - - X X -
setDestructiveButton - - - - - X -
setFrame X - - X - - X
setImage - - X - - - X
setInputText - - - - X - -
setLeftButtons - X - - - - -
setPasswordText - - - - X - -
setRightButtons - X - - - - -
setTintColor X - X X - - X
setTextColor X - - - - - -
setTitle - X X - X X X
setTranslucency X - - - - - -
setType - - - - X - -
show - - - - X X -

* Data is returned to the success handler

Commands and Parameters

Command Parameter Return
addToView - -
addButtons Array of Control IDs -
create - -
destroy - -
getFrame - Array: [x, y, w, h]
getInputText - String: Input text
getPasswordText - String: Password text
hide - -
pop - -
push NavigationItem Control ID -
removeFromView - -
setBarTintColor Array: [r, g, b, a] -
setButtons Array of Bar Button IDs -
setCancelButton Integer -
setDestructiveButton Integer -
setFrame Array: [x, y, w, h] -
setImage String: path to image -
setInputText String -
setLeftButtons Array of Bar Button IDs -
setPasswordText String -
setRightButtons Array of Bar Button IDs -
setTintColor Array: [r, g, b, a] -
setTextColor Array: [r, g, b, a] -
setTitle String -
setTranslucency Boolean -
setType String -
show - -


Controls that can send events do so using cordova.fireDocumentEvent. The event is of the form UUID_Event. For example, if a control has an ID of 28bbc290-d3df-4df3-ac58-e23296bcb7ea and a tap event is fired, a document event of 28bbc290-d3df-4df3-ac58-e23296bcb7ea_tap is fired. A native control's addEventListener method simply registers for this event name.

Return data is passed via a data object when using cordova.fireDocumentEvent; this is accessible to event handlers by using

Change Log

1.0.0  First Release
1.0.1  Merged pull request #2; toolbar didn't use correct buttons 
1.0.2  Documentation fixes
1.1.0  Lots of changes:
        - Navigation Bar offset should be 20px and height 
          should be 44px on iOS 7 as navigation bars now 
          properly report their position as attached to the 
          status bar. **this may be a breaking change!**
        - setTextColor added to Navigation Bars
        - BarTextButton and BarImageButton added (BarButton 
          deprecated). Do not mix your use here; do not assign 
          an icon to a BarTextButton and vice versa or you will 
          experience layout issues
        - Messageboxes with input fields now report that data 
          better (see above documentation); **this is a breaking 
        - Rects and Colors can be copied by passing the object to 
          be copied to their respective create methods. eg:
            var aRectCopy = window.nativeControls.Rect(aRect)
        - Global colors are now customizable. Add a new color:
            window.nativeControls.acolor = 
          DO NOT use camelCase this will cause lookups to fail
          when using window.nativeControls.Color("acolor");
        - Buttons added. Thanks to and for Matt!