Microsoft open-sources JavaScript tools

ManifoldJS turns Web experiences into native mobile apps, while Vorlon.JS offers remote JavaScript debugging

Continuing its overtures toward open source, Microsoft is unveiling technologies for packaging applications and remotely debugging JavaScript.

One open source technology, ManifoldJS, helps developers package Web experiences into native apps for Android, iOS, and Windows stores. ManifoldJS runs on familiar technology, said Microsoft Senior Program Manager Jeff Burtoft, aka "boyofgreen," in a blog post Thursday. "The only requirement is that you have node.js installed. ManifoldJS will run on any system (Mac, Linux, Windows) but can only build apps for platforms that are supported on that system."

Hosted Web apps, he said, offer the best of the Web to store apps with minimal effort. ManifoldJS focuses on the W3C Manifest for Web Apps, an open source approach for building apps that uses metadata to create a hosted native app on Android, iOS, and Windows. "When a platform supports hosted apps, we build it natively and then we use Cordova to polyfill the platforms that don't have native support," said Burtoft. On Wednesday at Build, Microsoft revealed its efforts to move iOS and Android code to Windows via bridging tool kits.

Also introduced at the Build conference was Vorlon.JS, a browser-agnostic tool powered by Node.js and for remote JavaScript debugging. "Vorlon.JS itself is a small Web server you can run from your local machine, or install on a server for your team to access, that serves the Vorlon.JS dashboard and communicates with your remote devices," a project description reads.

"Vorlon.JS has been designed so that you can extend the dashboard and client application easily by writing or installing additional plugins. These can add extra panes to the dashboard which can communicate bi-directionally with the client application. The console, dom inspector, and modernizr panes that come bundled with Vorlon.JS are all plug-ins themselves."

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