In this article, I will try to come with a quick overview of the two frameworks and whether to choose one or another for your development purposes.
The two frameworks are AngularJS based (and thus provides routing, two-way data binding, node.js back-end etc.) but ionic is used for building hybrid mobile applications (only) and supports all native functionalities, while Foundation is more adapted for websites (PC, laptop, TVs, mobiles phones, tablets, etc.), web applications and does not support native functionalities indeed.
Foundation is a highly responsive web framework created by Zurb.
Pros of Foundation :
- Provides developers with pre-built components
- Highly responsive
- 3 versions : Foundation for web sites, for emails (to build well-designed emails) and for web applications (providing many pre-built templates for a music app, a productivity app, etc.)
Cons of Foundation :
- Lack of native mobile support
- Seems to be built for the web only
- Does not support drag-and-drop (even less for mobile)
Ionic lets you build native-like mobile applications for all devices with support for many components and some native functionalities (with an AngularJs extension for handling Apache Cordova)
But it does not let you build web applications working in a browser for laptops, PCs, phones or tablets.
What to choose ?
If you need an application who’s fully compatible with a PC browser, a smart TV, an Android phone or an iPad and does not have time to build an ionic version + a foundation version, I’d say to choose Foundation. It won’t look as native as ionic and won’t support native functionalities by default but you could adapt and learn to use Apache Cordova to support them.
Plus, it takes a lot of time to handle two versions (one mobile, one web) of an application. But if you are perfectionist and have enough time, ionic is the best for your mobile app (you can also go native if you need computation power or some deep native functionalities like taking pictures, using NFC, etc.) while Foundation can be used for you web version.
But the user experience won’t be the same with a Foundation mobile application vs an ionic one. So the choice is hard and it is up to you and your needs.