Cappuccino Brings Cocoa-Like Programming To The Web

280 North, the Y Combinator-backed startup that brought you slideshow maker 280 Slides, has released a programming language and set of frameworks collectively known as Cappuccino that can be used to create rich web applications in the same way you’d create desktop applications for MacOS X.

Like SproutCore, which powers Apple’s MobileMe, Cappuccino seeks to replicate the functionality of Cocoa, a native application programming environment for MacOS X. But unlike SproutCore, Cappuccino doesn’t expect its developers to know any HTML, CSS, and JavaScript – the languages used traditionally for standards-based web development.

Rather, Cappuccino implements a language called Objective-J that mimics the Objective-C language used by Cocoa developers. While this poses a learning curve for many existing web developers, it eases the transition to the web for many desktop developers. There are other advantages to basing things in Objective-J as well: advancements in the Cappuccino frameworks don’t wait for the slow emergence of new standards, developers only deal with one language, and Cappuccino comes with useful language features simply not available in JavaScript.

Ultimately, Cappuccino intends to facilitate and speed up the development of rich web applications – ones that look and feel like desktop applications. For example, it helps with creating apps that have drag ‘n drop, copy and paste, undo and redo, and document saving functionality. If you can do something with Cocoa when developing for MacOS X, you can probably do it with Cappuccino as well.

Cappuccino is being provided as open source software under the lesser general public license. The 280 North team intends to spend more of its time on Cappuccino rather than 280 Slides going forward, although it does plan to continue releasing updates to that product. You can read more about 280 North and how Cappuccino compares to SproutCore in this Ars Technica interview from June.