Yahoo on Monday released an open-source Web application framework called Mojito that aims to make it faster for developers to write apps that can run on all major device platforms, including smartphones, PCs, iOS and Android.
While Web app frameworks are nothing new, Yahoo claims Mojito is different because it addresses the problem of delivering content to devices that have weak or intermittent connections, said Bruno Fernandez-Ruiz, chief architect with Yahoo's platform technology group.
Yahoo announced Mojito in November and is making the code available to developers this week under an open-source BSD license. It positions Mojito as a way to free developers from what it calls "closed, proprietary" platforms such as Apple's iOS, and from having to choose which platform to develop for.
It sees Mojito being used primarily by publishers to deliver newspapers and magazines, and for interactive ads. Yahoo has released a few Mojito apps to show what it can do, including Livestand, an iPad app for reading articles from various sources.
It's part of a wider Yahoo project called Cocktail, to build a Web presentation platform for devices. The Cocktail project also includes Manhattan, a Yahoo-hosted server environment based on Node.js where developers will be able to host their applications.
Yahoo has struggled to compete with Google and to return to the Internet leadership position it once held. It's had several changes of leadership and is frequently rumored to be a takeover target. That could make developers wary of jumping on board a new platform from the company.
But Fernandez-Ruiz argued that developers can have confidence in the project because it is open source. Should Yahoo's support for Mojito ever waver, the code would still be available for development, he noted.
IDC analyst Karsten Weide said Livestand "is beautiful, it's fast, and it's HTML5, so it's cutting-edge technology." He called the app's offline functionality "one of the big upsides." But Weide suspected that Yahoo was open sourcing the Mojito framework that Livestand previewed because "it did not get the distribution that [the company] had hoped for on its own steam."
Mojito is available from the GitHub open-source repository at http://github.com/yahoo/mojito/.
Cameron Scott covers search, web services and privacy for The IDG News Service. Follow Cameron on Twitter at CScott_IDG.