And Famo.us isn’t only committing financially, it’s announcing today. The startup is also going to develop and promote Famo.us-powered jQuery widgets — standalone components of websites, like photo galleries with sleek and easily adjustable design characteristics — that programmers can snap on to their sites and thereby instantly leap ahead of widgets that rely on decades-old layout engines. Hence this latest move from Famo.us is really about accessibility.
“You have to change one line of code,” said Famo.us cofounder and chief executive Steve Newcomb in an interview with VentureBeat. “The API interface to a developer should look a lot like jQuery.”
If these efforts to make Famo.us jQuery-easy prove successful, the creation of visually impressive applications could become more of a breeze, and Famo.us would be an obvious beneficiary. And web apps could gain more ground relative to native apps.
Newcomb, for his part, is excited.
“What if we took the Lightbox widget and made it Famo.us?” Newcomb asked. “What would that look like?” Clicking around on the computer at his desk Newcomb brought up a demo of a photo gallery that was a whole lot more fun to play with. The photos happily rearranged themselves as he adjusted the size of the browser window. And with a few clicks and drags, Newcomb tinkered with underlying elements like column gutters, “duration variance,” “tag spring period,” and so on.
Newcomb proceeded to show off a whole bunch more Famo.us-based doodads that can be implanted into websites. One showed two little squares bouncing off each other like they were cubes of Jello. It didn’t look like the sort of design people are used to. It looked … like the future. And that’s precisely why Famo.us needs to embrace the frameworks developers are already familiar with, like jQuery.
And going forward, the code for such appealing web design isn’t going to be out of reach to the average programmer. It’s going to look like good old jQuery, Newcomb said.
Dave Methvin, president of the jQuery Foundation and a longtime jQuery contributor, is also clearly excited about Famo.us coming in to the foundation, alongside the likes of WordPress and IBM:
jQuery Foundation projects are used on just about every web site of note on the Internet, including venturebeat.com. As with all open source projects, there is the possibility of a “tragedy of the commons” where everyone uses resources but nobody wants to invest time or money to ensure its ongoing success. We, the industry, need companies to step up and support these projects so that everyone can benefit.
Besides the financial support that Famous is providing to the jQuery Foundation, they will also be building jQuery widgets that take advantage of the Famous 3D physics engine. Web sites using jQuery (just about all of them!) can then improve their sites incrementally by replacing their existing lightboxes, carousels, and other widgets.
By making their technology available through jQuery, Famous allows most web sites and web-based apps to start using Famous now. Web developers can use the knowledge and tools they already have. They don’t need to start all over again or learn a new way to work.
It’s not surprising that San Francisco-based Famo.us is spending money — $720,000 over three years — to support foster adoption of its technology. The startup last year announced a $25 million funding round after starting in 2011.