Froont wants to solve many-screen design problems from within the browser

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Froont, a Baltic-U.S. startup, has released a public beta of its in-browser responsive web design tool, which aims to automate front-end development for the benefit of designers.

Responsive web design is all the rage right now: it basically means designing a website so that it renders nicely across a variety of device types, from the desktop to the handset (we’re into this stuff ourselves, you will have hopefully noticed). Froont isn’t the only company trying to tackle this market – Adobe(s adbe) is notably previewing its Edge Reflow tool at the moment – but co-founder Anna Andersone reckons her company offers a simpler experience than most.

“Most of the other tools are template-based,” she told me. “Froont allows complete design freedom, so in the responsive design field that is quite new. There is competition from Adobe Edge Reflow, but the main difference is that Froont is an in-browser tool, which means the result is already online and can be shared easily with client and collaborators just by sharing a link, and anyone can use the design on any device.”

Of course, this sort of work is best done on a desktop browser – in fact, Froont’s editing mode currently only works in Chrome(s goog). According to Andersone, this is because Google’s browser has better inspection tools than others.

While Froont is clearly aimed at reducing users’ need for traditional front-end development, it’s not as though it does away with devs altogether. “You can export clean HTML code or ready CSS which can be later added to any other platform,” Andersone said. “At that stage you need to have a developer who could connect it to an existing CMS or platform.”

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I’ve been looking at many of the alternatives for designing “in the browser” for this new era of designing for multiple form factors, mobile first, RWD, etc. The ones you’ve brought up here Froont and Edge Reflow are a bit heavyweight (albeit very impressive) for my tastes. Tools are good though, so I’ve developed an in browser sort of alternative to style tiles called ditbi: https://​github​.com/​r​o​b​l​e​v​i​n​t​e​n​n​i​s​/​d​i​tbi you might want to check out. The github has a link to 4 min video demo. You open a style tile like web page, interactively pick colors and font stacks, and export. It’s just going to help you with one of a few steps in getting your web site mood going, but I prefer combining a few tools like these as opposed to a one stop shop. Just my preference.

I also use Yeoman or general boiler-plate and scaffolding, Zurb Foundation, Bootstrap, or custom CSS framework to reduce tedium.

Rock Hammer is another tool that looks to be quite helpful in this area, however, I didn’t yet want to fork out the $24+ to purchase Hammer which it’s built atop.

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