HTML5 lovers rejoice: Famo.us to make its platform free for developers

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Remember Famo.us, the San Francisco-based start-up that wowed us with its ultra-brisk HTML5 and javascript demo at the Disrupt conference last year? Yeah, the same one that was co-founded by Steve Newcomb, one of the technology guys behind Powerset (now part of Microsoft’s Bing) and the same person who got me excited about the possibilities of Famo.us technology in a data-rich world.

stevenewcombImagine what Famo.us can do to an Amazon.com experience or even Walmart.com? Hermes could create a new, unique shopping experience, and Warby Parker can use data and design to create a personalized virtual store. Yup, I know I am getting ahead of myself … but hell, it is better than getting excited about yet-another calender app.

Now Famo.us is all set to show off its HTML5 development platform, which at least in demos, removes any advantages of the mobile-native operating environments. The native operating systems such as Android and iOS have enjoyed an edge because they provide a smooth and satisfying experience on their platforms. Famo.us wants to do that with its platform, which is entirely HTML5 based.

Newcomb will outline many of the details of the Famo.us platform at the HTML5 Developer conference in San Francisco today. As part of the announcement, the company will announce plans to make its platform free for individual developers and give them the option to create and host many Famo.us apps on its platform. Believers in Famo.us are going to be the same people who believe and want to build HTML5 apps.

The company in turn wants to make money by charging hardware makers — the companies that make phones and televisions, for example. In addition, Famo.us will also charge enterprises that want to use its platform for services.

Famo.us had impressed me with its technology, and co-founder and CEO Newcomb laid out a compelling vision for his platform. It resonated with me mostly because the company had come up with a way to tackle what I think is a going to be a growing issue in the future: building apps for a data-rich environment. That requires a new approach that looks beyond documents and instead thinks in terms of data streams and apps. It needs web standards, as it is becoming difficult to create, deploy and maintain apps for many of these emerging (hardware) platforms. Famo.us has come up with the right approach.

According to a Forbes.com report, the company has developed a new physics engine that when combined with Famo.us’ previously announced surface rendering technology will allow developers to create apps and interfaces for data-rich environments using javascript and HTML5. Just as gaming engines enable game developers to create multifaceted worlds, Famo.us is betting that with its platform, developers can create similar data-rich applications. “Famo.us will let data itself be visually and tactilely expressive,” writes Anthony Kosner.

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