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Thanks in large part to the popularity of the open-source model, companies of all shapes and sizes have access to technologies that would have cost six and seven figures to develop in-house a half a decade ago.

From high-performance data stores to countless software libraries, there are plenty of open-source technologies that make building a sophisticated web-based service far less costly and time-consuming than it would have been.

But open source's popularity hasn't just been a boon for the back-end, it's also making big contributions on the front-end thanks to the increasing popularity of high-quality open source front-end frameworks.

Here are five worth kicking the tires on.

Bootstrap

The product of two Twitter employees, Bootstrap has become one of the most popular, if not the most popular, front-end frameworks. It features a 12-column responsive grid, a rich set of JavaScript plugins, typography and form components.

Foundation

This popular responsive front-end framework is arguably Bootstrap's biggest competitor. Created by product design shop ZURB and like Bootstrap, Foundation includes a 12-column flexible grid. It's mobile-friendly, comes packaged with dozens of pre-built styles and has a number of add-ons, including icon fonts, responsive tables and SVG-based social icons.

Gumby

According to its creators, Gumby was "tirelessly engineered to be device agnostic, and resolution independent." It offers a 12-column grid, 16-column grid and hybrid grid. The mobile-friendly framework also comes with an array of extras, including forms, buttons and JavaScript elements such as toggles, tabs and drawers.

Responsive Grid System

A mobile-first front-end framework, the Responsive Grid System was built by a web designer who wanted "a simple fluid grid system without the bloat." There are separate 12, 16 and 24-column versions and unlike some of the other frameworks mentioned here, the Responsive Grid System comes with few extras, making it worth a look for those seek a lighter foundation on which to build.

Gravity Framework

This SASS-based HTML5 framework features a grid builder, CSS3 mixins and a number of built-in styles. Like the Responsive Grid System, Gravity is designed to be on the lighter end of the framework spectrum.

Patricio Robles

Published 8 January, 2013 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

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