Ionic mobile app dev framework centers on touch, animation

Framework enables development of cross-platform native apps for Android and iOS devices using HTML, JavaScript, and CSS

Proclaiming "the bond between HTML5 and native has arrived," proponents of the Ionic mobile framework are set to offer developers a tool for building hybrid applications with an emphasis on touch and animation functionality.

Available in an alpha stage of development, Ionic enables development of cross-platform native applications for Android and iOS devices, using HTML, JavaScript, and CSS. Free and open source, it's optimized to work with the AngularJS JavaScript framework and leverages the SASS (Syntactically Awesome Style Sheets) CSS extension. AngularJS extensions are featured, along with more than 450 free icons for functions such as tab bars and UI elements.

"We just felt like there wasn't a framework that was heavy on touch, animation, [and] gestures but was also a powerful programming library, not just a look and feel," says Max Lynch, CTO at Drifty, which oversees development of Ionic. "So we decided to build that."

Asked how Ionic differs from similar-sounding tools from companies like Sencha and Appcelerator, Lynch cited Ionic's MIT license, which lets developers use the framework in any commercial or open source product without paying for a license. Ionic offers a more native approach to development and AngularJS is a differentiator, he says. "Angular is becoming incredibly popular, so Ionic is a perfect fit for Angular developers."

"The goal of what we're trying to do is basically provide the most compelling alternative to building with the iOS or Android native SDKs and any other native SDKs that we end up supporting in the future," Lynch says. He notes labor and cost savings with Web development as opposed to the native variety. "Instead of spending half a year on two entirely different code bases for iOS and Android, you can build just one with HTML5."

Ionic, says Drifty Senior Developer Adam Bradley, takes advantage of the hard work put in by HTML5 over the years. "When legacy browser issues are no longer a concern, you all of a sudden have this realization that today's browsers come with some pretty powerful APIs. We're targeting iOS 6 and up, and Android 4 and up, which is an extremely large market share and will only get larger, and the devices will only get faster."

Development of Ionic only began in September. The alpha release came out last week and is available on GitHub. A beta version is planned for the end of this year with an official 1.0 release eyed for mid-winter. As a business model, Drifty plans to build an ecosystem of mobile development services that use Ionic at their core.

This story, "Ionic mobile app dev framework centers on touch, animation," was originally published at Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog. For the latest developments in business technology news, follow on Twitter.

Copyright © 2013 IDG Communications, Inc.

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