Like Angular, Backbone, or EmberJS, WinJS is a framework that developers can choose to use on a per-project basis, depending on whether it meets their needs. There is no use case in which a developer must use WinJS in order to deliver a Windows app.
That’s why Microsoft is pinning its hopes on WinJS being more appealing than any of the existing frameworks. Here are some of the features they hope you’ll consider:
- WinJS is designed to help you build web-based apps, and yes, that includes HTML5. A slew of distinct components provide prewritten code for useful features like lists and grids so you can shortcut your app. The photo at the top of this article shows just what span and scope these libraries have. You can also check out the WinJS preview to try out some of the libraries without doing a build.
- WinJS’s ultimate goal? According to Josh Williams, Principal Software Design Engineer at Windows, it’s to make Windows apps look more like what today’s consumers expect apps to look like. “Gmail, for example, gave an app like feel, and apps have a certain look and feel. People expect that and that’s what it is,” he told ReadWrite at Build 2014 in San Francisco.
- With so many other JS frameworks out there, what sets WinJS apart from the pack? WinJS libraries especially cater to the needs of business apps on the Web, said Paul Gusmorino, Principal Program Manager at Microsoft. “WinJS is [user interface] focused and it allows for a similar look across devices,” he said to ReadWrite at Build 2014.
WinJS is getting a lot of early attention, but it’s hard to say yet if it’ll become anyone’s favorite framework. Its developers say WinJS is especially streamlined for business apps, consistency across platforms, and a user-focused experience, but you could say the same for competitors like Angular, Backbone, Ember and Knockout. Making apps “look and feel like apps” isn’t exactly a unique goal.
An earlier version of this story mischaracterized the nature of the Build conference and Microsoft’s WinJS open-source announcement. ReadWrite regrets the errors.
Photo by Dan Rowinski for ReadWrite