SproutCore founder leaves Apple to pursue new HTML5 iPad apps

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Charles Jolley, the developer behind SproutCore, has left Apple to start Strobe Inc., a new business targeting touch-driven web applications. Both Apple and Strobe will continue to advance SproutCore as a core asset.

SproutCore is an open source, platform-independent, Cocoa-inspired JavaScript framework for creating web applications that look and feel like Desktop applications.

Apple discovered Jolley's SproutCore startup and hired him to create the MobileMe suite of web apps, beginning with a new Gallery web app for .Mac in the fall of 2007. In 2008, Apple relaunched .Mac as MobileMe, and introduced a full suite of web apps built using SproutCore.

The following year, Apple released iWork.com, which also uses SproutCore. This year, the company began introducing refreshed "V2" versions of the MobileMe components apps, starting with the iPad-inspired new look of Mail, and continuing with the latest announcement of a new MobileMe Calendar app, now in beta.

The MobileMe Calendar app (below) will be Jolley's final project at Apple. While Apple's MobileMe team continues to enhance its online offerings, Jolley's new Strobe startup will focus on the emerging market for web apps.

"Strobe Inc. is about building marrying the web and touch, where you get the best of both worlds: easy access to your data from any device (like the web), with a rich immersive interface (like native touch)," Jolley wrote in an email interview with AppleInsider.

"SproutCore is very good at supporting just these types of apps; it will be at the center of everything we do. Strobe will be investing quite heavily in it," Jolley said.

The SproutCore development community

Asked about the kind of support SproutCore is seeing as an open software project, Jolly wrote, "the SproutCore open source community is very healthy. We have about 1,500 people on our mailing list and a very active IRC channel. We also have 33 regular contributors to SproutCore, 75% not from Apple.

"I've always been more interested in influence over numbers with SproutCore. We tend to have key teams working on high profile projects at well known companies vs having a lot of tinkerers. Mozilla, for example, uses parts of it for their Bespin project. Gomez based parts of their products on it. There are a few other well known enterprise companies that are literally rewriting their entire product based on it. Total bet-the-company type of moves.

"All of the customers interested in Strobe's SproutCore-based solution are household names in publishing. We are going to have even more big name support going forward," Jolley said.