The Potentially Game Changing HTML5 Framework Famo.us Has Launched!

5 min read

Originally published April 23, 2014

After a long wait and a lot of hype, the Famo.us framework is officially launching. But don't hold your breath, you could be waiting a while to get access. If you try to register now you'll be given a ticket to wait in line for access, I managed to snag #77,918. For anybody who didn't get in early (myself included) we'll likely be waiting until the total launch on May 19th. If you've got an insatiable appetite for knowledge right now though, you can still take a peek at their Docs and Guides.

What is Famo.us?

Famo.us is another Javascript framework for creating HTML5 mobile applications, and the team claims that it's just as fast and fluid as native apps. Although some frameworks like Sencha Touch + PhoneGap can perform extremely well if coded correctly, it could never really be claimed that they were "just as fast and fluid" as a native application.

The founder of Famo.us, Steve Newcomb, claims that his framework excels in this regard due to the different approach they are taking. He says all browsers rely on archaic rendering and graphics engines that were designed for simple text and images. Their approach is to use their own JavaScript based 3D rendering and physics engine which will replace the ones we currently rely on in browsers.

I haven't had a chance to try out the framework for myself just yet, as is probably clear by my position in line, but I'm excited to try soon. It looks extremely promising and innovation in the mobile web space is a truly exciting thing.

I've done a bit of research on the information that's out there about the Famo.us framework now, but there's still quite a few questions running through my head. It seems as though Famo.us will become a direct competitor to PhoneGap. Will this mean the death of PhoneGap? If the grandiose performance claims do turn out to be true it'll certainly be a huge competitor in the field of hybrid mobile application development but I doubt we'll be saying goodbye to PhoneGap anytime soon. A little competition is a good thing, and when a new player steps into a field previously dominated by a single tool it's a great thing.

At this point it's been hard for me to tell how Famo.us can be integrated with Sencha Touch, but from my brief research it sounds like they may play nicely together. If it's possible, expect a blog post almost as soon as I get my hands on the framework.

Fastbook vs Famebook

Demos are what we all want to see, where the tools put their money where their mouth is. You may remember a demo from the Sencha Touch team rebutting performance claims made by Facebook that HTML5 "just isn't there yet". Engineers at Sencha created an application called "Fastbook" where they recreated the Facebook application in Sencha Touch. The result was very impressive, and you can take a look for yourself below:

Sencha Fastbook from Sencha on Vimeo.

In a similar fashion, and just as cutely named, the Famo.us team developed an application called 'Famebook' that imitates Facebook's Paper application. The application is claimed to have been built in a single week by a developer new to the Famo.us team. Whether the developer has any previous experience with the framework is unclear, but the demo is very impressive none the less:

Demo: Facebook Paper in Famo.us from Famous Industries, Inc. on Vimeo.

I'm sure the Famo.us would like us to believe that we can all create impressive applications like this in our first week with the framework, and I'd love for that to be the case, but I'm remaining skeptical at this point.

Whilst the Sencha Touch 'Fastbook' demo is impressive, it is out of the realm of what even some of the most experienced Sencha Touch developers can create and there was a lot of custom work done by the engineers at Sencha. For now, I'm assuming that this will be the case with the Famo.us demo as well. I do have very high hopes for Famo.us though, and can't wait to see what effect this has on the mobile web application scene.

If you've been fortunate enough to get into the Famo.us beta early, let us know your thoughts in the comments!