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Ionic Framework 2 Beta is Out

by David Iffland on Feb 16, 2016 |

The Ionic team has released a beta of their upcoming Ionic 2 framework. It sheds much of the cruft that held back version 1 and gives developers tools to build more sophisticated UIs.

In a thorough announcement blog post, Ionic Lead Developer Adam Bradley ran through the ways that version 2 improves the game. Architecturally, the framework continued using Angular, but it's now built upon Angular 2. This is a natural progression, but has some developers worried. Seeking to calm those nerves, Bradley says there's nothing to be afraid of:

I think it’s important to realize that Angular is largely a set of opinions around how JS apps should be built. Those opinions are still the same despite a change in underlying implementation and language. While it may look different from what you’re used to, the benefit is the entire web industry is moving towards this standard set of technologies, so your skills will adapt to other projects beyond Ionic and Angular 2.

Aside from the architectural evolution, one of the biggest changes is the way navigation is handled. Now, pages are pushed on and popped off a navigation stack which allows for more flexibility and solves many problems from v1. Because a page can exist within multiple contexts (in a sidebar or a dialog box), they are no longer bound to discrete URLs.

Material design is now done with its own set of styles, simplifying the CSS as a whole. Material design is no longer built on top of the iOS design. Every components has two sets of Sass files, one for each platform. "It was getting a little challenging having to override some of the deep class nesting to get your own styles. The feedback was [Ionic 1] was too hard to customize because our selectors were a little bit too complicated," said Ionic co-founder Max Lynch.

Ionic has hammered its own nail into Bower's coffin by dropping support in version 2. Npm is now the source for everything including ionicons and Ionic 1 and 2.

In an interview with InfoQ, Lynch says they are 100% focused on helping people build apps on the standard browser stack:

Ionic apps are the same whether they're deployed as a native app in the app store, a mobile website, an electron app, or a desktop site. We find that web developers and designers can pick up Ionic pretty quickly because it's the same stack they already know from doing web dev (HTML, CSS, and JS). People pick Ionic because they have web design and development experience already and want to use those skills to build something quickly, and want to deploy it on all platforms. We're passionate fans of the open web and believe strongly that the platform will be increasingly useful in a diversity of contexts, and a stable platform that businesses and enterprises have already and will continue to invest in. We're working toward that future.

There's no set release date, but Lynch expects it to stabilize whenever Angular 2 does. Developers can get started with Ionic 2 by grabbing it with npm and checking out the new documentation.

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