Migrating a Web App Using Cordova to Capacitor
There are several steps required to fully migrate a web app using Cordova over to Capacitor.
It's recommended to work in a separate code branch when applying these changes.
Begin by opening your project in the terminal, then either follow the guides for adding Capacitor to a web app or adding Capacitor to an Ionic app.
Initialize your app with Capacitor. Some of the information you will be prompted for is available in the Cordova
- The app name can be found within the
- The Bundle ID can be found in the
idattribute of the root
npx cap init
Build your Web App
You must build your web project at least once before adding any native platforms.
npm run build
This ensures that the
www folder that Capacitor has been automatically configured to use as the
webDir in the Capacitor configuration file.
Capacitor native platforms exist in their own top-level folders. Cordova's are located under
npx cap add ios
npx cap add android
Both android and ios folders at the root of the project are created. These are entirely separate native project artifacts that should be considered part of your app (i.e., check them into source control, edit them in their own IDEs, etc.). Additionally, any Cordova plugins found under
package.json are automatically installed by Capacitor into each new native project (minus any incompatible ones):
Splash Screens and Icons
If you've previously created icon and splash screen images, they can be found in the top-level
resources folder of your project. With those images in place, you can use the
cordova-res tool to generate icons and splash screens for Capacitor-based iOS and Android projects.
npm install -g cordova-res
Next, run the following to regenerate the images and copy them into the native projects:
cordova-res ios --skip-config --copy
cordova-res android --skip-config --copy
Begin by auditing your existing Cordova plugins - it's possible that you may be able to remove ones that are no longer needed.
Next, review all of Capacitor's official plugins as well as community plugins. You may be able to switch to the Capacitor-equivalent Cordova plugin.
Some plugins may not match functionality entirely, but based on the features you need that may not matter.
Note that any plugins that are incompatible or cause build issues are automatically skipped.
Remove Cordova Plugin
After replacing a Cordova plugin with a Capacitor one (or simply removing it entirely), uninstall the plugin then run the
sync command to remove the plugin code from a native project:
npm uninstall cordova-plugin-name
npx cap sync
By default, the entire initial permissions requested for the latest version of Capacitor are set for you in the default native projects for both iOS and Android. However, you may need to apply additional permissions manually by mapping between
plugin.xml and required settings on iOS and Android. Consult the iOS and Android configuration guides for info on how to configure each platform.
Cordova Plugin preferences
npx cap init is run, Capacitor reads all the preferences in
config.xml and ports them to the Capacitor configuration file. You can manually add more preferences to the
Additional Fields from
You may be curious about how other elements from
config.xml work in Capacitor apps.
The Author element can be configured in
package.json, but is not used by Capacitor or within your app:
<author email="email@example.com" href="http://ionicframework.com/">Ionic Framework Team</author>
Most of the
allow-intent values are either not used or there are configurable alternatives.
<allow-intent href="http://*/*" />
<allow-intent href="https://*/*" />
<allow-intent href="tel:*" />
<allow-intent href="sms:*" />
<allow-intent href="mailto:*" />
<allow-intent href="geo:*" />
edit-config elements need to be configured in Info.plist.
<edit-config file="*-Info.plist" mode="merge" target="NSCameraUsageDescription">
<string>Used to take photos</string>
It's impossible to cover every
config.xml element available. However, most questions relating to "How do I configure X in Capacitor?" should be thought of as "How do I configure X in [platform] (iOS/Android)?" when searching online for answers.
When using Ionic with Cordova, your app uses
cordova-plugin-ionic-webview by default, which on iOS uses
ionic:// scheme for serving the content. Capacitor apps use
capacitor:// as default scheme on iOS. This means that using a origin-binded Web API like LocalStorage, will result in a loss of data as the origin is different. This can be fixed by changing the scheme that is used for serving the content:
Once you've tested that all migration changes have been applied and the app is working well, Cordova can be removed from the project. Delete
config.xml as well as the
plugins folders. Note that you don't technically have to remove Cordova, since Capacitor works alongside it. In fact, if you plan to continue using Cordova plugins or think you may in the future, you can leave the Cordova assets where they are.
This is just the beginning of your Capacitor journey. Learn more about using Cordova plugins in a Capacitor project or more details on the Capacitor development workflow.