Famo.us 2016 - what happened?

What the hell happened here? Last I heard they were making pretty good progress with native performance web-graphics, I was pretty impressed with the demos. Now they’re basically squarespace for mobile? wow…

Or am I missing something crucial here… Anyone using this thing?


It can be hard to make a business out of an open source framework!


Well, they never really had a business model. They were just building stuff with very, very little community involvement, pretty bad docs and saying “we’ll build an ecosystem of services you’ll want to use”. I’ve never seen any of those services, not even as a teaser I think.

You should ask @trusktr though. He seems active in the famous fork forum.

@sashko Yeah I believe you. Crazy pivot though. Wonder if the investors get their return.


They probably won’t. This website has been exactly like this since the pivot. It’s just like the old famo.us, no progress whatsoever and as little transparency as a brick wall :wink:

Looks to me like they’ve figured out how to monetize, and still skating to the puck. It’s just not what other people were expecting, exactly.

For some background on what they think they’ve achieved, take a look at the Day Made of Glass - Video 1 from about 3:05 through 4:56 for the advertising market they’re making a play for.

They’ve got the animations and programming nailed down to create those kinds of applications; but that kind of UI comes with certain engineering costs and design constraints. So, rather than trying to promote the Famo engine independently, and have everybody second-guess it, they’ve created a Famo-optimized CMS with a universal template that works across devices and doesn’t require going through the app store, but has native quality performance.

It will be hotcakes with the kinds of brands that keep shop in SoHo and Venice Beach.

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Meteor devs make it look easy. :wink:

We started an open source alternative at http://infamous.io (not a fork (was, but not any more), name subject to change, and very much WIP). I got some inspiration from http://aframe.io (which is currently WebGL-only, written on top of Three.js) and made an HTML interface for my prototype engine (the example there is in Meteor). There’s no docs for any of our prototypes yet, and mine has no demos yet except for that basic HTML interface demo. So, WIP. :smile:


Famo.us went from hullabaloo to Hooli in short order :wink:

The fish rots from the head…


Ohai. I just updated the Periodic Table Demo and moved it over to Galaxy.


I’ve always been very pleased with the performance I’ve gotten out of Famo.us. As far as I’m concerned, Mixed Mode basically delivered on what was promised, and the entire engine is pretty self-contained and complete at this point.

That demo right there is 60fps and pulling from a mLab Mongo instance, and integrates fairly seamlessly with Blaze. The card templates can be updated and adjusted as needed. So, as far as I’m concerned, Famo.us delivered a WebGL optimized engine for rendering our Card UI.

ps. If you find the sidebar and start theming and trying the different scenes, be sure to refresh the app if tiles don’t render on a page. In-app navigation is still a bit flaky; but that’s more an issue of me not tearing things down properly.

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you can go to http://famous.org/ but it seems stagnant looking at github.

But checkout https://github.com/Famous/engine/issues/507 for forks

good links, thanks. It actually seems to make some sense now. I hope Meteor succeeds with the open source platform!

The problem is that they were creating a solution for a non-existing problem.
Yes, performance on the web is not optimal. But really, who needs their app to look like their periodic table demo? These kinds of 3D interfaces have been possible for ages in native code and have been envisioned in many hollywood productions. Yet, you don’t use 3D interfaces all the time because they’re fun for 1 day and start to annoy from day 2.

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The periodic table demo is admittedly gratuitous with it’s use of the z-axis. In real life apps, the z-index is used instead of z-axis, and the Famo engine is configured to be something of a 2D application windowing environment.

Flipboard and AirBnB are great examples of 3D app interfaces that look-and-feel like 2D interfaces (also, iOS in general.) They’re 2D… until a tile flips or spins or there’s a pageflip. But those bells-and-whistles aren’t easy drop-in features. For them to be butter-smooth, each drop-in widget has to be able to hook into the 60fps buffer pipeline. Which is why they built the entire Famo engine in the first place.

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I thought a similar thing since the first time I heard of Famous.

Famous was claiming to solve problems for which there had already been solutions, and Famous wasn’t particularly better. Not saying there can’t be more than one solution, but they were marketing it like these animation issues had been previously unsolved and Famous would be better. I wasn’t convinced of this after examination.

In addition, they had a closed development process, while claiming it was open-source. I understand development being closed at the outset, but for way too long it was just pure hype, without any code to chew on. I signed up to their website, and waited well over a year before I could see any sign of progress.

Reminds me of another project called TideKit, which was promising cross-platform apps in several languages. Though, unlike TideKit, Famous was eventually released. Then, what I did see was unimpressive. I never liked the idea of totally sidestepping the DOM and doing everything in the Famous API, It’s like rendering your whole app in a canvas element.

Also @sashko is right. Making a business from an open-source framework is hard. Successfully raising money is not the same as successfully running a business

I will never understand how startups like this get money with such incompetent leadership.
Look at how this Famo.us office tour showcases the waste: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=imc1p_laIt4

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Don’t be so caught up in the sound panels or showers or printer. Real estate is generally an excellent investment for capital, especially in a town like San Francisco. The real estate acts as a holding trust, and can be resold or repurposed, unlike when capital is spent on operating budget such as salaries and hosting infrastructure.

Also, that incompetent leadership has monetized and positioned themselves to be around for the next 5 to 10 years or more. As a company, Famous is very reminiscent of Oblong Industries (which apparently has opened up a second office in SF, and/or relocated from LA?)

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I think is not that hard to be around for the next 5 or 10 years with $31 million. And yes, I agree that is better to burn money on real estate or something else safer that building your shitty framework that no one will use.

Famo.us business should be selling books and webinars on how to raise crazy money. They are definitely awesome at that.

If you’re still interested in the appraoch that Famous proposed, take a look at samsara.js

It has been made by famo.us’ second engineer who used to be the Chief Architect there. He left the company in 2014.