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Facebook open sources mobile browser test suite to promote HTML5 development

Facebook has open sourced Ringmark, its browser test suite for building apps on the mobile web, according to a post on the company’s HTML5 blog today.

The effort is part of Facebook’s push to promote HTML5 development. One of the major challenges with HTML5 development right now is fragmentation in mobile browser capabilities, but Ringmark lets developers see instantly whether their apps will be able to run on a given mobile browser.

The social network has an interest in helping HTML5 become a more viable platform for developers to build upon since it cannot monetize native iOS or Android apps. Many developers see HTML5 as inferior to native mobile experiences, but as HTML5 improves, there is more likelihood that developers will adopt it and then Facebook can benefit from the use of Credits in these apps.

Promoting HTML5 is also Facebook’s way of supporting a potential new wave of mobile development.

“For those that are building with the web today, it’s a major hurdle to learn native technologies like Objective-C and Java,” Facebook engineer Matt Kelly wrote in the blog post announcing the news. “We hope that an improved mobile web can unlock a large contingency of developers that could, and will, be developing for mobile.”

When the company introduced Ringmark at Mobile World Congress in February, there were more than 400 tests available. Now that the project is open sourced, any developer can contribute tests and provide value for others in the community. The company hopes that over time this will help mobile browser vendors build browsers that better serve developer needs and bring better apps and games to consumers.

“This is the beginning of a process, starting with open sourcing the tests,” Kelly wrote. “As we continue to build, we’ll continue to open source even more of this work.”

Facebook also says it will soon contribute Ringmark tests to the Core Mobile Web Platform Community Group in the W3C. The group is an industry-wide consortium including manufacturers, carriers and developers that aim to push HTML5 forward with a single set of standards.

Developers can view and contribute to the Ringmark code here and here. The test suite can be found here.

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