Where is the famo.us engine going?

I remember 2-3 years ago when I got a link from a friend leading me to this exciting project. A JS framework that allows to render UIs at native speeds in a browser with all the bells and whistles imaginable. There was even an AngularJS integration in the works. Christmas! But I decided to wait to see where this goes before spending a significant amount of effort on it. It wasn’t quite there and betting on this horse seemed too risky.

Today I tried to find out how things developed. To my surprise, it is very difficult to get useful information and the buzz seems to be gone. There hasn’t been much going on in terms of extending the framework, no ready to use components, no proper boilerplate apps, no ecosystem worth mentioning. Is it dying?

One problem that struck me is their unfortunate branding. Try googling “famous”… it’s impossible to find something remotely relevant to the engine. It takes significant effort. Is that on purpose?

While they moved to famous.org and added a bit of documentation for the new features as well as a few “hello worlds”, it struck me that they probably went from being a framework company to a service company. Now my guess is that they need some cash and decided to put their framework to use in client projects. But what’s up with the mouthwatering promises? AngularJS support is also inexisiting in the newest iteration and it’s just completely foggy to see a direction. Their blog is a 404. Bad signs all over the place.

Then I stumbled across this blog post over at telerik.com. It’s from 2015 – but it provides a nice overall view and an explanation for the quietness:

Famous final destination?

Famous is a good citizen, giving its engine and framework away for free. But we all know at a certain point money can’t just be spent. The piper must be paid. Money has to flow back up stream at some point. And the 30+ million dollar question in Famous’s case, is: how will they turn a buck?

From what I can determine, the money making plan is to create an online tool similar to the Flash IDE.

However, I weighted my options for using famous on a small page and decided against it. With so much insecurity revolving around this project, it’s simply not worth the effort to dig deeper. And by mixing other libraries, it’s possible to come close to what famous promised but with more structure and actual resources to use. 

I might revisit it in a few quarters but for now, back in to the fold.

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