Coding Smarter: The Why of Foundation 4

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You probably know that we've been working on Foundation for some time now. Foundation 2, the first open-source, public release of Foundation came out in 2011 and Foundation 3 followed with a ton of new cutting-edge features in June of last year. Over the coming few weeks, we'll be diving into the major components of Foundation 4 — but before we get to that, we wanted to share how we got here and what our motivation is behind Foundation.

The Web is Awesome

At ZURB, we're obviously huge fans of the Web, but just think about this for a second. The Web is probably the single greatest advantage and equalizer seen in the world in the last century, and we're all lucky enough to work on it and help it improve and grow.

Foundation was developed in large part so that we could do something to make the Web even more awesome. We wanted to help you make great sites and products that move the Web forward in the way we're seeing it go.

Toward more and different devices. Toward ubiquitous access. Toward more content and services. Each version of Foundation has helped us build toward this goal.

Foundation 1 was developed internally at ZURB because it was convenient. We build a lot of sites for clients and it was efficient for us to have a common framework in which all of our designers could work.

Foundation 2 was developed and released to make responsive design feasible. Responsive design is enjoying a huge heyday right now, but has been a fairly marked departure from traditional Web design and code. Foundation 2 helped lower that barrier by doing a lot of the heavy-lifting required for a responsive site.

Foundation 3 was developed to make the framework modern. Using new tools like Sass/SCSS and new approaches like border-box: box-sizing for the grid we took the good start of Foundation 2 and brought in all of the cutting-edge technology we felt was advantageous for the release — and manageable by our users, which had grown into the many thousands by this point.

With all of those releases we had a goal: convenient, feasible or modern.

Foundation 4 is about making our code smarter, by changing the framework to support ways of development that not only produce incredible results and save you tons of time, but also let you create best-practice, smart code.

Coding Smarter

There are three major components that will make building prototypes and sites with Foundation 4 smart, and we'll be diving into them in individual posts over the coming weeks leading up to Foundation 4's February release.

  • Mobile-First: ZURB advisor Luke Wroblewski has been beating the drum on Mobile First for a little while now, and we've come to the conclusion as he did that this is the smart way to build. Foundation 4 will be tailored from the ground up to a mobile-first workflow, giving you much greater device support and a much smarter multi-device workflow.
  • All Semantic: Presentational markup has been the achilles heel of frameworks for a long time, but with preprocessors like Sass available now we can enable a fast workflow that lets you write exactly the markup you want, and still get the benefits of framework components.
  • Retooled Javascript: We've rewritten our JS plugins and components so that not only is calling them much easier, but developing for them and augmenting them is also a very different and more pleasant experience.

Coming in February

We're busy at ZURB. We recently acquired Forrst and are hard at work on improving that app and fostering the community. We've recently launched a Responsive site to feature great responsive work and provide some best practices for designing responsively. And in a couple weeks we'll be moving to a fantastic new headquarters here in our hometown of Campbell which will afford us a lot of great new opportunities.

That's just some of it. But we won't sit still on Foundation, and so Foundation 4 is coming out in the middle of next month. We're hard at work, and you can check out our progress any time through our branches on Github. Comment, contribute, and spread the word — and stay tuned to our blog during the coming weeks where we'll get into more detail about the major components of Foundation 4. We're excited for what we plan to be our largest release to date, and hope you are too.

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