Microsoft extends its JavaScript framework to rivals

The company's intent is to get open source WinJS on Android, iOS, and Firefox

With the open-sourcing of its Windows Library for JavaScript (WinJS) this week, Microsoft is looking to get the technology spread to multiple browsers and platforms beyond Windows -- and that includes rivals Google Android, Apple iOS, Google Chrome, and Mozilla Firefox.

Source code for WinJS is available under GitHub, with the software now offered under an Apache 2.0 license. "Our intent is to make WinJS run great on modern browsers and modern devices. It's going to be a journey," said Josh Williams, Microsoft developer lead. "We're hoping that people contribute."

WinJS has been billed as a framework for making Windows-style user experiences. Actually under the jurisdiction of Microsoft Open Technologies, WinJS is a set of JavaScript toolkits for building applications using HTML, JavaScript, and Cascading Style Sheets (CSS). Developers can access UI controls supporting touch, mouse, keyboard, and accessibility. Components and utilities are featured for building scaffolding and application infrastructure.

WinJS can complement other JavaScript technologies such as JQuery or Angular.js. "We designed WinJS from the ground up to work alongside other JavaScript libraries," said Paul Gusmorino, program manager on the developer ecosystem team at Microsoft. WinJS has served as the UI framework to power many Windows 8.1 applications, he said at the Build conference in San Francisco on Wednesday. While WinJS is focused on UI controls and look and feel, Angular.js could be leveraged for building the application model, according to Microsoft.

Microsoft this week also introduced WinJS 2.1 for Windows Phone 8.1, to extend it to Microsoft's smartphone platform. WinJS 2.1 for Windows Phone capabilities include pivot controls. "It is an essential control in Windows Phone that is used for lots of apps including mail and so forth," Gusmorino said. List view functionality is featured as well.

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