Aiming to lessen cross-platform mobile development woes, Chocolate Chip-UI, an open source mobile framework incubated at Sourcebits, is being released today after being re-written from the ground up to support iOS 7, along with Android (Jelly Bean) and Windows Phone 8. This makes it the first cross-platform mobile framework to arrive with iOS 7 user interface support.
The Chocolate Chip-UI was originally released back in the days of iOS 4, following creator Robert Biggs’ failed efforts to find a mobile framework that fit his needs. After looking at a dozen of these, he was disappointed. “I wanted something that looked good, was easy to use, and didn’t have a big learning curve or a lot of requirements for things I didn’t really need.” So he decided to create his own.
Around six months ago, the company asked to acquire Chocolate Chip-UI and Biggs, in a combination acqui-hire and IP deal. As he began settling in to update the UI to version 3.0 with support for Windows Phone 8 and iOS 6, WWDC happened, and we all know what came next. iOS 7, which is a full-on makeover of Apple’s operating system, was introduced at this year’s WWDC event. “Knowing my framework, I knew there would be a lot of difficulties with my framework supporting iOS 7,” Biggs says. “I realized I needed to go back to the drawing board.”
A few weeks after WWDC, he re-wrote the Chocolate Chip-UI from scratch. Today, there’s only 10 percent of the original framework included in today’s release, version 3.0. The framework, now a fifth smaller, loads a lot faster and supports Android (Jelly Bean) and Windows Phone 8, too. It also supports customization of the look-and-feel and offers a plugin architecture, allowing developers to build their own plugins which they can use with their apps.
Biggs explains that Chocolate Chip-UI, which competes with other popular mobile frameworks like jQuery mobile, Sencha touch, or Zepto, for example, is the first to really offer a iOS 7 look-and-feel, but can also completely change to support which device is being used (Android, WP8, e.g.). Others either look pretty much the same across platforms, or don’t do a great job with their cross-platform support, he believes. “With Chocolate Chip-UI, you don’t have to worry about how to create a realistic iOS UI, or realistic Android UI, or a realistic Windows Phone 8 UI. You just worry about your content and interactions, and the framework takes care of all the details for the UX of the OS,” he says.
The company has only tested the Chocolate Chip-UI internally, but it’s now being launched publicly for anyone to try. The UI is being open sourced under the BSD license, but will offer a commercial license for larger companies and enterprise, who may also request other services and support.
Interested developers can try the overhauled Chocolate Chip-UI here.