jQuery Mobile Set to Democratize Mobile App Design

The jQuery team has launched jQuery Mobile, a touch-optimized Web framework for smartphones and tablets. The jQuery Mobile framework will enable developers to design a single branded and customized web application that will work on all popular smartphone and tablet platforms.

The goal of jQuery Mobile, which is expected to be delivered in late 2010, is to provide a unified user interface system across all popular mobile device platforms, built on the jQuery and jQuery UI foundation. According to the jQuery Mobile Website, the framework's lightweight code is built with progressive enhancement, and has a flexible, easily "themeable" design.

The jQuery project delivered a fast and concise JavaScript library that simplifies HTML document traversing, event handling, animating and Ajax interactions for rapid Web development. The tagline or slogan for jQuery is that it enables developers to "write less, do more."

The jQuery mobile framework takes the "write less, do more" mantra to the next level: Instead of writing unique apps for each mobile device or OS, the jQuery mobile framework will allow you to design a single highly branded and customized Web application that will work on all popular smartphone and tablet platforms, the jQuery mobile Website said.

"Absolutely critical to us is that jQuery and the mobile UI framework that we're developing work across all major international mobile platforms (not just a few of the most popular platforms in North America)," jQuery creator Jon Resig said in a blog post describing jQuery Mobile. "We've published a complete strategy overview detailing the work that we're doing and a chart showing all the browsers that we're going to support."

Resig also said: "Not only is the core jQuery library being improved to work across all of the major mobile platforms, but we're also working to release a complete, unified, mobile UI framework."

jQuery Mobile has been targeted at the leading smart device platforms, including iOS, Android, BlackBerry, Palm webOS, Windows Phone, Symbian, Samsung bada, Maemo and MeeGo. A look at the mobile browsers and devices jQuery Mobile supports can be found here.

According to the jQuery Mobile team, one of the group's primary aims is to provide tools to build dynamic touch interfaces that will adapt gracefully to a range of device form factors. The system will include both layouts (lists, detail panes, overlays) and a rich set of form controls and UI widgets (toggles, sliders, tabs).

And, "To make building mobile themes easy, we're dramatically expanding the CSS framework and ThemeRoller tool to have the power to design full applications," the team stated on its Web page. "For more polished visuals without the bloat, we're adding support for more CSS3 properties like text-shadow and box-shadow."

So far, the sponsors of the jQuery Mobile project are Palm, Mozilla and the Filament Group, a Boston based design and coding shop that uses jQuery. The jQuery Project is financed entirely by donations and contributions from the jQuery community.

In a blog post, Dion Almaer, director of developer relations for Palm, said:

"What are we doing? We are going to sponsor some of the great work that will go into jQuery Mobile from jQuery team members such as the Filament Group who are well known for their work on jQuery UI and ThemeRoller. First and foremost, we want to allow the team to focus on making a great jQuery experience across the mobile Web.

"Secondly, we will be working hard to make sure that webOS itself is a fantastic host for the product. This will mean testing help, and also some jQuery plugins that show off some of the great abilities of webOS (e.g. the notifications system) in a progressive way."

Moreover, Resig's blog post quotes Pascal Finette, director of Mozilla Labs, as saying, "As a longtime supporter of the jQuery project and its wider community we are excited to extend our support to the jQuery Mobile project. jQuery Mobile has the potential to make cross-platform Open Web development significantly simpler."