The response to our Foundation 5 launch has been incredible. Over the first 36 hours, we had 190k visitors to our properties and 800k pageviews. The average time onFoundation was seven minutes. We reached 180 countries and territories in that time. Keep in mind, this is an open-source code project! It's amazing to be part of a project that millions of designers and engineers use on a daily basis.
What We Learned From Foundation
We've learned quite a bit about frameworks over the course of five Foundation releases. The first, and most valuable, is that creating something of value takes time. Lots of time. Foundation is now over two years old and we've committed and removed thousands of code bits. We've answered countless emails. Since April alone, we've answered over 3,000 cases via email. The ZURB team has been incredible and stepped up to support the community. And that's just email support. We've made over 5,000 code commits with the help of the community, toured the globe speaking at events and hosted lots of meetups for our fans.
The second thing is that we can provide even more value by creating revenue streams that support its growth and ensure its success (all the while continuing to keep the project open for the millions worldwide that depend on Foundation). Projects like Drupal, Wordpress, Ruby on Rails, and Node are examples of open-source projects that have companies who are heavily invested in the code and community. Based on our experience, we believe most companies would prefer to use an open-source framework and pay for services, instead of managing a costly solution of their own.
HTML and CSS Still Rule
With the proliferation of devices over the last couple years, companies understand that they need to create products that meet the growing demands of users — sitting in front of a desktop computer won't be the primary use case for customers. Heck, looking at a phone may not be either. iOS and Android are exceptional platforms that companies will need to invest in, but the open web will continue to be a huge part of what users expect as well.
HTML is now over 20 years old and CSS is not much younger. Technologies have come and gone, but these two have continued to survive. With more "dumb" and smart devices emerging, we're firm believers that companies will depend on these proven technologies for their visual interfaces. Which means that companies need a way to manage how they produce their interfaces across all these devices.
Front-End Frameworks to the Rescue
It was clear when we developed Foundation that we needed a way to standardize our coding approach across our company. As early as 2007-08, we were starting to standardize our approach to make it easier for everyone on our team to contribute to a project. Standardization and speed were two huge benefits. Our style guide also encouraged best practices.
By early 2011, we had built the first version of Foundation and collected a lot of feedback. It was clear this was huge for people who built applications and websites. But with mobile growing, we knew that our framework had to be responsive. Foundation 2 was the first responsive framework. We followed this up by introducing Sass, semantic markup, and a mobile-first approach in the next versions. We learned a lot — what to do and not to do when it comes to standardizing our approach. Creating a code base wasn't just about the code, it was an operational problem that required getting people to accept a solution. Now that frameworks exist, it's much easier to get a team onboard with the concept.
It's clear from our experience that companies need a framework for their front-end development. It's simply too costly and painful for companies not to have a standard. Whether it's a custom implementation, pattern library or pulled code from an open-source framework, it really doesn't make much sense to hand code everything. And yes, we understand the purists will shout out. But we believe the need for most people to create front-end code may not even exist in the not-so-distant future.
Providing a Professional Solution
Creating a framework can be a costly endeavor, it makes sense to adopt an open-source solution for most companies. Open source is a choice many companies make, but that's an argument that you either believe in or not.
With our latest release, we're making it easier for companies to invest in the Foundation framework as part of their development stack. Our Foundation Business group is now providing support, training, consulting and products to support these companies. As part of this effort, we're also supporting our new responsive email framework, Ink.
We understand that for many companies making technology decisions aren't easy, but for those companies who are already invested in Foundation or want to make the switch from their own set-up, we're giving companies the peace of mind that they're not going alone. If your company is interested, please check out our Foundation Business site to see how we might be able to help you.
Leading the charge at ZURB since 1998