This is a review of 10 open source responsive HTML5 frameworks, boilerplates and tools for front-end web development (HTML, CSS, and JavaScript). I’ve included tutorials and resources related to each of them, and a comparison table at the end.

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1. Twitter Bootstrap

Twitter Bootstrap

Bootstrap is a popular, modern front-end/UI development framework. It’s feature-packed and will have most of the things you’ll need for developing responsive sites and apps.

Bootstrap has a 12-grid responsive layout, 13 custom jQuery plugins for common UIs like carousels and modal windows, a Bootstrap customizer, and more.

Bootstrap is well-documented, and this open source project has plenty of coverage in blogs and tutorial sites.

Bootstrap Tutorials

Bootstrap Tools and Resources

Tools/Resources Description
Bootswatch open source, free Twitter Bootstrap themes
Built With Bootstrap showcase of websites and apps that use Bootstrap
Bootstrap Browser Compatibility table showing what browsers Bootstrap supports
Building Twitter Bootstrap how Bootstrap was built
WP-Bootstrap an open source WordPress starter theme built on top of the Bootstrap framework
Font Awesome icon fonts designed for Bootstrap
Official docs of Bootstrap

2. Foundation

Foundation

Foundation is another popular responsive front-end framework. With this modern HTML5 framework, you can approach web design either mobile first, or from big displays down to mobile sizes.

It has rapid-prototyping capabilities, a responsive grid system and much more.

Foundation is by ZURB, a company of product designers focused on providing web-based solutions.

Foundation Tutorials

Foundation Tools and Resources

Tools/Resources Description
Foundation: HTML Templates HTML layout design patterns you can readily use
Foundation Icons Fonts useful set of UI icons
Foundation: Omnigraffle Stencils a template for your wireframes
Official docs of Foundation

3. Skeleton

Skeleton

Skeleton is a simple and clean responsive CSS boilerplate for HTML5 websites and apps. It’s got just the things you need, and nothing more.

Some notable features: a responsive layout grid, standard media queries for your device-specific CSS style properties, a CSS class for responsive image elements that scale with the layout grid, a PSD template for mocking up your web designs, and an HTML5 shiv for old web browsers.

If you want to get started with responsive design quickly, you should look into this open source project.

Skeleton Tutorials

Skeleton Tools and Resources

Tools/Resources Description
Skeleton WordPress Theme WordPress starter theme written using Skeleton
Skeleton Examples & Extensions showcase and a list of projects built with Skeleton
Official docs of Skeleton

4. HTML5 Boilerplate

HTML5 Boilerplate

In 2010, HTML5 Boilerplate became one of the first, and subsequently, most popular open source front-end web development tools for getting HTML5 websites and web apps up and running in no time. It’s a compilation web development solutions that enable our sites to support modern web browsers.

Included in HTML5 Boilerplate is a mobile-friendly HTML template, placeholder icons, CSS resets for normalizing/standardizing your stylesheet property values, standard media queries for popular viewing screens, an HTML5 shiv for non-modern web browsers, and more.

HTML5 Boilerplate Tutorials

HTML5 Boilerplate Tools and Resources

Tools/Resources Description
HTML5 Boilerplate Showcase Tumblr blog featuring websites and apps that use HTML5 Boilerplate
Mobile Boilerplate offshoot of HTML5 Boilerplate specifically for mobile apps
Sites Using HTML5 Boilerplate list of websites that use HTML5 Boilerplate
Official docs of HTML5 Boilerplate

5. HTML KickStart

HTML KickStart

One of the newest kids on the block, HTML5 KickStart is a lean and mean package of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript files that promises to save UI developers hours of work.

At about 300KB, HTML KickStart packs quite a punch: UI components like stylish buttons and navigation bars, scalable icons (using Font Awesome), a responsive grid layout, a touch-enabled slideshow component and so on.

HTML KickStart Tutorials

HTML KickStart Tools and Resources

Tools/Resources Description
Official docs of HTML KickStart

6. Montage HTML5 Framework

Montage HTML5 Framework

Montage is an open source HTML5 framework for building modern apps. This JavaScript library uses declarative binding which easily helps you keep your app data and UI in sync.

Montage also has a feature called Blueprints for associatively binding metadata onto your app objects — a pretty nifty function for dealing with lots of dynamic page elements.

Montage Tutorials

Montage Tools and Resources

Tools/Resources Description
Apps Made with Montage gallery and showcase of live apps that leverage Montage
mop open source tool for minifying your Montage files and customizing your Montage bundles
Official docs of Montage

7. SproutCore

SproutCore

SproutCore is a front-end framework for building HTML5 apps rapidly.

It follows the MVC architecture pattern and promises its users the ability to craft native-like user experiences for the Web.

SproutCore Tutorials

SproutCore Tools and Resources

Tools/Resources Description
SproutCore Showcase demos and examples on this section of SproutCore’s website
Official docs of SproutCore

8. Zebra

Zebra is a rich UI open source framework that leverages HTML5 canvas as the backbone of its rendering abilities.

Zebra says that using it "isn’t rocket science" and that you can get started in 5 minutes.

Zebra Tutorials

Zebra Tools and Resources

Tools/Resources Description
OOP cheat sheet helpful resource for understanding the concept behind Zebra’s object-oriented programming logic
Official docs of Zebra

9. CreateJS

CreateJS

CreateJS is a suite of open source JavaScript libraries and tools for creating rich, interactive HTML5 content. It consists of 5 modular JavaScript libraries. It will help you with implementing animation effects, supporting HTML5 audio in your site, and much more.

Adobe, Microsoft, and AOL sponsor this project.

CreateJS Tutorials

CreateJS Tools and Resources

Tools/Resources Description
EaselJS demos a showcase of the capabilities of one of CreateJS’s JS libraries
CreateJS CDN Libraries a public CDN for serving up your CreateJS files
Official docs of CreateJS

10. Less Framework

Less Framework

Less Framework is a modern front-end framework for building responsive designs. Similar to Skeleton (discussed above), Less Framework focuses on being just a plain and simple layout grid framework.

It has 4 pre-built layouts: Default, Tablet, Mobile and Wide Mobile.

Less Framework Tutorials

Less Framework Tools and Resources

Tools/Resources Description
Frameless Grid grid system concept, a collection of resources, and a good starting point for designers and developers using the Less Framework
Less Grid useful grid overlay to help you develop your layouts
Less Guides 4 Guides for popular Adobe software to help you mock up your layouts
Official docs of Less Framework

Comparison Table

  License Size (MB)* CDN Contr-ibutors Twitter Founder Repo Start Date
Twitter Bootstrap Apache License v2.0 3.15 cdnjs BootstrapCDN 235 @twbootstrap 69,923 followers Mark Otto, jacob (fat) GitHub Aug 2011
Foundation MIT License 2.20 None 237 @foundationzurb 11,326 followers ZURB GitHub Sep 2011
Skeleton MIT License 0.03 jsDelivr 14 @dhg
6,676 followers
Dave Gamache GitHub May 2011
HTML5 Boilerplate Multiple open source licenses .09 None 157

@h5bp
28,221 followers

Paul Irish GitHub Apr 2010
HTML KickStart MIT License 0.30 jsDelivr 11 @htmlkickstart 308 followers Joshua Gatcke GitHub Feb 2013
Montage BSD License 0.89 None 24 @montagejs
83 followers
Multiple GitHub Jul 2012
SproutCore MIT License 10.7 None 126 @SproutCore 2,999 followers Strobe Inc. GitHub 2010
Zebra LGPL 6.82 None 4 @sandtube
0 followers
Andrei Vishneuski GitHub Nov 2012
CreateJS Unknown Various sizes CreateJS CDN Libraries 14 @CreateJS
2,972 followers
Multiple GitHub Mar 2012
Less Framework MIT License 0.007 MB None 2 @lessframework 1,461 followers Joni Korpi GitHub Jun 2011

*Size is determined as the master package’s archive file size on disk (on MS Windows)

What Responsive HTML5 Framework/Boilerplates/Tools Do You Use?

I chose these 10 based on quantitative (i.e. development activity, popularity, etc.) as well as qualitative (such as reputation of the founders and simply personal preference) reasons.

These are my top picks. I’d like to know yours. Please write a review about your favorite open source HTML5 front-end web development framework or boilerplate and please also discuss your personal experience with it in the comments below.

Author:

Jacob Gube is the co-founder and a managing editor of Design Instruct. He's a web developer, and also the owner of Six Revisions. Follow Jacob on Twitter: @sixrevisions