Top 10 open source frameworks

Our top 10 open source mobile app frameworks are listed below in alphabetical order, with links to product pages. Unless otherwise noted, the software is available only in a free, open source version.

Framework 7

from — Since version 1.0 was released a year ago, Framework has been one of the best choices for developing iOS apps. Now that it offers Android support, it’s also a good option if you want to start with iOS, then build an Android version with an iOS like look and feel. Features include Material Design UI, native scrolling, 1:1 page animation, a custom DOM library, and XHR caching and preloading.


from Ionic — Based on the Sass CSS extension language, this popular cross-platform framework is fairly easy to use, yet it can also integrate AngularJS for building more advanced apps. Ionic offers a library of mobile-optimized HTML, CSS, and JS CSS components, gestures, and tools, and works with predefined components. A command-line interface provides features like emulators, live reload, and logging, There’s also a Cordova-based app packager.

jQuery Mobile

from jQuery Foundation — Based on jQuery, this mature, lightweight framework lacks many of the advanced features of most packages here, but it still has a large, committed user base. While it offers features like semantic markup, progressive enhancement, themable design, and PhoneGap/Cordova support, there’s not much here for native-like functionality and performance or advanced UI. On the other hand, its simplicity means that “write once, run anywhere” is often an achievable goal, and it’s a good choice for simple apps that also need to run on Windows Phone and BlackBerry.

Kendo UI

from Telerik — This jQuery based HTML5/JavaScript framework is available in open source and commercial versions. The enterprise-friendly Kendo UI offers a wide selection of UI widgets and plugins. It’s best known for its numerous prebuilt themes with Material Design styling, as well as a theme builder for custom themes. Other features include Angular and Bootstrap UI integration, as well as performance optimizations.

Mobile Angular UI

from Maurizio Casimirri — This open source project combines AngularJS and a modified version of Twitter’s Bootstrap into a mobile UI framework. It is said to retain most of Bootstrap 3’s syntax for easier web-to-mobile portability while adding mobile components missing from Bootstrap, such as switches, overlays, sidebars, scrollable areas, and fixed-positioned navbars. Libraries include fastclick.js and overthrow.js.


from Telerik — As the name suggests, NativeScript focuses on native UX development, but it offers cross-platform code-sharing support across Android and iOS. The software uses existing native UI libraries, with the UI described by means of JavaScript, XML, or optionally Angular. It’s not as easy to use as Telerik’s more traditional cross-platform Kendo UI framework, however.

Onsen UI

from Asial Corp. — Onsen is built on HTML and CSS, and is designed to work with PhoneGap and Cordova, which are not pre-integrated. It can also work with Angular and jQuery. As the name suggests, the program stresses UI development, and offers a wide range of web-based UI components and features, such as two-column views for tablets. (Material Design, however, is still missing.) The well-documented program is pitched at jQuery Mobile users who need ease of use but want more functionality, performance, and UI features. A drag and drop GUI tool is under development at Tokyo-based Asial, which also develops and maintains Monaca.

React Native

from Facebook — React Native is an open source spin off of Facebook’s React JavaScript framework, which famously replaced the earlier HTML5 foundation. As the name suggests, this high-end, iOS-focused program is more of a native app package than a cross-platform framework, but with its new Android support, it loosely fits our requirements, as you can essentially write once in JavaScript and port to both platforms. Currently, only OS X desktops are fully supported, although there are experimental Linux and Windows versions for Android App development.

Sencha Touch

from Sencha — Sencha’s mature, enterprise-focused HTML5/JavaScript framework is available in both open source and commercial versions. Sencha builds upon ExtJS to enable native-like performance. It provides a visual app builder for HTML5, as well as the ability to reuse custom components. A native packager streamlines distribution to stores like Google Play.


from Appcelerator — Unlike the more web-oriented frameworks, Titanium uses JavaScript to create native code, with claimed benefits in performance. This Node.js-based SDK offers over 5,000 APIs for iOS, Android, Windows, Blackberry, and HTML5. Titanium is known more for its performance and extensive feature set than for ease of use. The software is open source, but the full-featured free version is free only as long as you don’t publish your app, at which point you have to pay at least $39 per month.

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