Powerful tools for developing Web Apps

In the recent years, web development changed drastically. The emergence of the mobile web and the new form factor of smart phones created the demand for different solutions than the former desktop-only web.

Since then a lot of frameworks and tools have been created, with new ones being added almost weekly. Now, we web developers are faced with a different problem: for every development concern, there are multiple options to consider, without clear pros or cons. It is easy to feel intimidated not only by the choices available, but also by how similar those choices are.

Every day, web developers have to successfully overcome this issue and turn this diversity from a daunting proposition into an empowering one.

But why reinvent the wheel all the time?

A set of solid recommendations for app developers

Mozilla is putting together a core set of tools and recommendations that we believe are the most useful for making Web apps.

The key considerations for what we might recommend are:

  • Sufficiently well-documented and straightforward to use for an average developer (we will concisely document the required knowledge one needs in order to engage with the technology).
  • Loosely coupled and as modular as possible (so you can follow one recommendation but not another if you are so inclined).
  • Tested on Mozilla products (i.e. the UI components will perform well on Firefox OS, etc), but with cross-platform apps in mind

The upcoming, initial set of recommendations involves a toolchain that’s core to any modern web app, like a JavaScript framework, templating interface, UI framework and task runner. We will employ existing solutions wherever possible and write libraries or utilities to fill in the gaps.

On an ongoing basis, we’ll expand this systematically across the different parts of the development experience, such as offline handling or the use of various Web APIs.

All of this will be delivered in one central spot: The App Center on the Mozilla Developer Network (MDN), our established, renowned resource for web app development.

But I already have it all figured out!

We encourage you to share your success story with us. Heck, share your failures too. We need all the feedback we can get from everyday web developers. If you have a tool chain of your own, with your favorite JavaScript framework, etc., we’re not interested in converting you to something else. We’re trying to help developers who aren’t sure how to go about making these kinds of decisions.

Come join us!

In the Mozilla tradition, this is a community-driven process. This means your input is encouraged and appreciated, and we would like your help to make this a successful initiative!

The main discussions around this will happen in the following places:

For the initial tool chain recommendations, I started a thread on the mailing list already, go ahead and weigh in.

If you have ideas for topics worth exploring in future iterations, don’t be shy and open a new thread to get the discussion started.

What’s next?

If this whets your appetite, then great! 2014 is an exciting year to be a web app developer. We’ll keep you updated here on Hacks, as well as the MDN App Center over the coming months.

About Robert Nyman [Editor emeritus]

Technical Evangelist & Editor of Mozilla Hacks. Gives talks & blogs about HTML5, JavaScript & the Open Web. Robert is a strong believer in HTML5 and the Open Web and has been working since 1999 with Front End development for the web - in Sweden and in New York City. He regularly also blogs at http://robertnyman.com and loves to travel and meet people.

More articles by Robert Nyman [Editor emeritus]…


  1. Ratnadinakar

    Thanks for the awesome initiative. It would also be good if trending feature is added against each tool or framework. Such that developers can get a gist of latest and outdated.

    April 15th, 2014 at 10:49

    1. Robert Nyman [Editor]

      Interesting idea. Thanks for the suggestion!

      April 17th, 2014 at 01:57

  2. Alfred Lebon

    It would be awesome to have native TypeScript support in Firefox. That is without having to transpile TypeScript to JavaScript.

    Please please make it happen.
    Yes, it would be a revolution. But I’ve suffered for way too long in dynamic typing land already.

    Mozilla, please, aim for the sky.

    April 15th, 2014 at 11:02

    1. Robert Nyman [Editor]

      This is more about documenting and sharing technical resources and recommendations for doing web development, rather than adding more support to another language or similar to Firefox itself.

      April 17th, 2014 at 01:59

  3. aikah

    We dont need MVC frameworks,libraries or stuff that are just yet another javascript lib. Javascript needs code analysis tools, first and foremost like tern.js,things that can help developpers write better javascript. That’s what developpers need. Tools that will help IDEs make javascript coding easier.

    We also need good javascript resources,MDN is a good start.Finally we need a way for developpers to promote javascript and its best practices in enterprise,so educational resources and “marketing” resources(white papers…)

    Writing large javascript apps is hard. Moz is supposed to be at the forefront of javascript development.Yet Moz didnt write Grunt,Karma or even Nodejs? Mozilla has lost focus a little bit these past years. Maybe i’m wrong? if so the Moz should actually tell developpers what it is doing to for them,and market it.

    April 15th, 2014 at 11:33

    1. Robert Nyman [Editor]

      Thanks for your detailed comments and suggestions! For me, personally, when it comes to JavaScript libraries I don’t necessarily see that everything has to come from us, but rather that we’re part of offering a technical platform and documentation for open technologies to build such things.

      When it comes to pushing JavaScript, one of our strong interests with JavaScript is to make the platform much richer on mobile, and where Firefox OS is at the forefront.

      Our WebAPI initiative is aimed at just that, to get standardized JavaScript APIs to offer greater possibilities to web developers, in particular on mobile, but also on other platforms.

      April 17th, 2014 at 02:05

  4. Asif Ameer

    I think I am in agreement with Robert that standardization of JAVASCRIPT APIS will help developers to achieve more in mobile and other platforms. Thanks for the post.

    April 17th, 2014 at 03:05

  5. Chtiland

    Link to Apps Center redirects me to https://developer.mozilla.org/fr/Apps -> 404.

    April 24th, 2014 at 09:01

    1. Robert Nyman [Editor]

      That link, and locale, works for me when I test it. Does the problem still persist?

      April 25th, 2014 at 01:19

      1. Chtiland

        Works yet ! Thanks !

        April 25th, 2014 at 08:24

Comments are closed for this article.