Background

MIT Heritage

Kurogo started as a fork of the highly-regarded MIT Mobile Framework, an ambitious open source project started in 2007. That year, MIT invested considerable resources in creating a rich mobile campus website that aggregated useful, actionable content from disparate sources and presented it optimally on the broadest possible range of mobile devices for their students, faculty, staff, and visitors. The first version of the framework included support for basic feature phones like the Motorola RAZR; PalmOS devices like the Treo series; Windows Mobile 5 and 6 smartphones; BlackBerry 4.x and 5.x devices; and the just-introduced iPhone, which was ushering in the era of the modern smartphone. The framework was rigorously designed, developed and tested, garnering the highest SUS (System Usability Scale) scores ever recorded by MIT's usability testing labs.

Almost from its inception, the framework garnered considerable interest from other universities. MIT open-sourced the project, which was quickly adopted by other schools glad to take advantage of its elegant, proven platform. The project team went on to create MIT's native iPhone application in 2009, based in part on the same mobile framework.

Modo Labs and the Birth of the Kurogo Platform

By 2009, Andrew Yu, MIT's Mobile Platform Manager and Architect who had led the MIT Mobile project, recognized the broader market demand for a flexible, extensible mobile platform. In early 2010, he and other core members of the team (including lead developers Brian Patt and Sonya Huang and lead designer Eric Kim) left MIT to found Modo Labs, a mobile software company. Together with several other founders, they assembled a team to comprehensively re-architect the original framework. Their new software platform, which they named Kurogo, was designed to be much more customizable, extensible, and scalable, and the team progressively added features to support a wider range of applications beyond the needs of the higher-ed community. Modo Labs released an early beta of Kurogo in January 2011, and officially released Kurogo 1.0 in April 2011.

In addition to best-in-class multi-platform mobile web templates, the Kurogo platform includes libraries for creating native iOS and Android* apps which leverage the same back-end data sources and Kurogo REST APIs to deliver truly native mobile apps.

Open-Source Community

Like MIT, Modo Labs open-sourced its new platform, Kurogo. Many members of the iMobileU community (which was started in 2009 by Andrew Yu while at MIT) adopted Kurogo and started to make contributions ranging from adding new features to bug fixes. Modo's mobile work for Harvard University (including the Harvard mobile website and iPhone app, Harvard Reunions site and app, and campus tour) has also been contributed back to the open-source community and significantly improved key parts of the Kurogo platform. A rapidly growing number of other institutions, including hundreds of colleges and universities and leading financial-services firms and nonprofits, are freely using Kurogo on their own to power their multi-functional mobile websites and apps as well. The open-source community has worked to improve the platform through contributions of significant new features, bug reports and fixes, and peer-to-peer support.

* Kurogo iOS and Android native apps are available to commercial licensees.

“Mobile apps for universities are evolving rapidly and there's a great opportunity for everyone to contribute. That makes open source mobile frameworks especially important for rapid development mobile learning. Kurogo's open source platform comes straight out of the MIT experience and the MIT innovative tradition.”

Hal Abelson
Professor of Computer Science and Engineering
MIT