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Core Concepts

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If you’re completely new to Ionic and/or hybrid mobile app development, it can be helpful to get a high-level understanding of the core philosophy, concepts, and tools behind Ionic. The information below can help you familiarize yourself with what Ionic is and how it works.

What is Ionic Framework?

Ionic Framework is an open source SDK that enables developers to build performant, high-quality mobile apps using familiar web technologies (HTML, CSS, and JavaScript).

Ionic is focused mainly on the look and feel, or the UI interaction, of an app. This means that it’s not a replacement for Cordova or your favorite JavaScript framework. Instead, Ionic fits in well with these projects, in order to simplify one big part of your app development process: the front-end. Check out “Where does the Ionic Framework fit in?” to get a good understanding of Ionic’s core philosophy and goals.

How is Ionic Licensed?

Ionic is completely free and open source, released under the permissive MIT license, which means you can use Ionic in personal or commercial projects for free. For example, MIT is the same license used by such popular projects as jQuery and Ruby on Rails.

This website and documentation content (found in the ionic-site repo) is licensed under the Apache 2 license.

What is the Ionic CLI?

The CLI, or command line interface, is a tool that provides a number of helpful commands to Ionic developers. In addition to installing and updating Ionic, the CLI comes with a built-in development server, build and debugging tools, and much more. If you are using Ionic Appflow, the CLI can be used to export code and even interact with your account programmatically.

What are components?

Components in Ionic are reusable UI elements that serve as the building blocks for your mobile app. Components are made up of HTML, CSS, and sometimes JavaScript. Every Ionic component adapts to the platform on which your app is running. We call this Platform Continuity and go more in depth on how it works in Theming.

What is theming?

Themes are sets of styles that get applied to an app. Ionic uses a light theme by default, but it also comes with a dark theme. In addition to theming, Ionic’s Platform Continuity enables components to have platform-specific styles. This means the app’s styles will change based on the platform (iOS, Android, etc.) on which it’s being run, offering your users an experience with which they’re familiar.

How does navigation work?

Navigation works like a stack — push a page to the stack to navigate to it, and pop to go back. Modals and alerts can also be displayed by pushing them onto the navigation stack.

Who is behind Ionic?

Ionic was originally built by @benjsperry, @adamdbradley, and @maxlynch. After releasing an alpha version of Ionic in November 2013, we released a 1.0 beta in March 2014 and a 1.0 final in May 2015.

Now, Ionic has a massive international community of developers and contributors propelling its growth and adoption. Companies small and large are using Ionic to build better apps, faster. In 2015 Ionic developers reportedly created over 1.3M apps with Ionic, a number that continues to grow each day.

What is Angular?

Angular is the underlying framework that powers Ionic. It is responsible for the component API that is the building block of Ionic. For an overview on Angular, be sure to checkout the official Angular Docs.