Open webOS 1.0, Enyo 2.0, and fulfilling the revised dream | webOS Nation

Open webOS 1.0, Enyo 2.0, and fulfilling the revised dream 13

by Derek Kessler Wed, 25 Jan 2012 7:55 pm EST

In 2009 the dream of webOS and the Palm Pre was a successful web-based mobile platform with full-featured apps built with web code. It was an ambitious dream, but it came packaged with a flawed plan and debilitating lack of resources. The idea of building apps with just HTML5, CSS, JavaScript, and a sprinkling of custom code seemed so obvious and yet something that nobody had yet grasped.

There's a reason nobody had yet grasped it - it's not easy. Sure, programming in HTML isn't exactly rocket surgery, but building an OS to support solely those apps is a more difficult proposition. It took webOS a while to get its footing, too long, in fact.

Today the dream has been revised. webOS is still at its core based on web technologies, but the dream is of those web-coded apps being everywhere and breeding success back down to the to-be-open-sourced webOS. Today's open sourcing of the Enyo application framework was the first of many steps to fulfilling that dream, and it's a pretty big one. It didn't take long after the announcement for Enyo-based apps to find their way into our browsers and other platforms, and we imagine that's just going to be the beginning. There are plenty of well-built Enyo apps that we're certain developers will be excited to be able to bring to other platforms without much effort (at least compared to the effort of completely rewriting the app for other platforms).

Today was really all about Enyo. Having the roadmap for the webOS open source release is great and all, but it's just to set expectations. We now know what we can look forward to in the coming months (ha, gotcha!), but at least in our estimation the most interesting item on the list was the very last one in September 2012: Open webOS 1.0.

This is not HP going back and pulling webOS 1.0 out of the vaults and open sourcing it. Nor is this HP dialing down the version number on 3.0 and shoving it out to the public. As we discussed last month after HP's announcement of their open source plans, there's plenty of work to be done with regards to open sourcing webOS. And today we got a glimpse at some of that work, such as adopting the standard Linux kernel for distribution onto more devices with better driver support and switching to JavaScriptCore over V8. These changes weren't just made with "going open" as a concern, in fact we wouldn't say that was a concern at all, though certainly a nice bonus as a result. The idea behind these changes (and likely plenty more to come) was to make webOS hardware agnostic - more like Linux and Android.

The revised dream is that by making webOS a new alternative to Android they might be able to pick up some marketshare in the process, making it easier to justify bringing back webOS hardware from HP. That's part of why HP's reseting the version counter to 1.0, and maybe pulling off a rename here to Open webOS (though personally we're still likely to just call it webOS if that's the case).

That's the dream. Now if that will be the reality, that remains to be seen. But at least today's news not only puts us a step closer, but also makes it an actual possibility. An open source application framework is one step, but we have to hope that Open webOS 1.0 takes massive leaps ahead, because that's exactly what the competition is going to be doing too - and they have hardware to back it up.


Yeah, that's one of the saddest Pre Doodles I've seen.

Really? Because it looks like webOS finally has a destination.

That is like the moon in the sky, looks like the road is going to take us there, but the destination will move. Apple/Google/Microsoft aren't waiting for us to get there. Tablet technology is changing fast. Hope 9 months isn't to long to get this baby out...

Tablet technology is changing fast but there is no point in getting there half-prepared. That's one of the many of mistakes HP made when it pushed the touchpad through before software was ready. The consumers and bloggers are not forgiving for partially finished products especially when compared with the smooth if overhyped ipad. (witness RIM and android tab's limited sales) The software is the key and cutting edge hardware is available to HP or other manufacturers if they want to use those components.
I am getting the sense HP truly will get back in the tablet webOS business but is opening up a level field to others who are interested and are willing to take a risk on webOS. Question is if anyone is willing to get into webOS phones? I wonder if at first there will be small companies to sell select android phones with webOS flashed on them with some limited support. Or will one or two big companies take the plunge?

Hardware agnostic sounds great - I just hope that future hardware maintains the gesture area!

The idea of building apps with just HTML5, CSS, JavaScript, and a sprinkling of custom code seemed so obvious and yet something that nobody had yet grasped.

Actually people grasped it. PhoneGap has been around since 2008 IIRC and has been used to develop many apps across a few platforms. People have been building HTML/CSS/Javascript apps for quite some time now.

I wondered about that. Not really a developer, but is Enyo 2.0 different than Appcelerator or PhoneGap in any significant way?

Yes, there are significant differences between Enyo and both Appcelerator and PhoneGap.

PhoneGap basically provides a shell application and an API to some of the underlying OS functions - usually limited to non-visual features. The shell app basically launches a webview (think of it as a mini view that can display web pages) and your web app runs in that. You tend to need a Javascript framework (like Sencha Touch, jQuery, etc.) to write the actual web app that runs in the webview.

Appcelerator provides you with an API to much of the underlying OS functions - both visual and non-visual. You write your app in Javascript as well but you don't use much HTML/CSS to create the visual aspects of your app. Instead, you call out to the OS for everything. The apps are actually native apps. Instead of using HTML and CSS to approximate the look and feel of the OS, you get the actual OS components to run. This means an Android app looks like an Android app while the same app running on iOS looks like an iOS app.

Enyo is better compared to the Javascript frameworks out there like Sencha Touch, jqTouch, Dojo, etc.

This is truly exciting. Cznt wait to hear/read Rod W & Co chime in with his official take and webOS Internals roadmap.

This makes me feel that there wasn't a point to webOS. It's technically just a web browser and all the apps can be launched from a browser. What's the point of that?

The point was expediency. It wasn't designed to be very capable nor efficient. Palm was so far behind in 2008 that they put something half-baked together. It's not even fully baked now. That's why nobody bought it.


"Rocket Surgery"? OK Mr. Mixed metaphors. Anyway, great story.