Native vs web debate rumbles on

“HTML5 is ready” say creators of mobile HTML5 Facebook clone

Elliot Bentley

To prove Zuckerberg wrong, two Sencha developers have developed an HTML5 web interface called Fastbook.

was in September that Mark Zuckerberg infamously stated that the
company “burned two years” by
betting too heavily on HTML5
. This came soon after the company
was forced to replace their hybrid iOS app with a
far speedier native one
after a deluge of complaints.

Since then, some have hit back at Facebook, insisting that the
social network’s app was simply implementing the technology wrong.
To prove the point, two developers at Sencha have developed their own

HTML5-based Facebook web app
which matches and in some cases
exceeds the current native apps.


Jamie Avins and Jacky Nguyen’s ‘Fastbook’, which is available as a live demo, is
meant purely as a technical showcase, implementing just the
newsfeed and the user’s homepage using several aspects of the
Sencha Touch framework. Tested on an iPhone 4, we found it faster
at loading but not quite as responsive as the current native

Under the hood, Fastbook’s tricks include utilising Sencha Touch
features such as a “Sandbox Container” to detach complex DOM
elements and place them in their own iframes, “TaskQueue”, which
compiles DOM read or write operations for speed, and
“AnimationQueue” which does what it says on the tin. The pair even
went as far as utilising a proxy to filter data obtained via the
API, compressing it to 10% of its existing size.

Below the accompanying
, some commenters called Fastbook out for being
misleading since it is able to utilise the ‘Nitro’ JavaScript
engine unavailable to hybrid apps like Facebook. However, Avins
responded in the comments that “GPU compositing is MUCH more
important than the JS for this type of application”.

As well as a good PR stunt for Sencha, the app is designed to
generate publicity for Sencha’s ‘HTML5 is Ready’
competition, which challenges developers to “build an awesome HTML5
app using Sencha frameworks”.

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