In 2008 I (Martijn Faassen) built a library called hurry.resource. It could automatically insert the required <script> and <include> tags into HTML. You could describe these resources in Python code. It was aware of resource dependencies, and also had a facility to automatically included minified versions of particular resources, or bundled versions that included a number of files.
I used hurry.resource in the context of applications based on the Grok framework. The Grok integration was involved; you had to hook in at the right place to manipulate the HTML, and hurry.resource did not serve static resources itself; it left that up to the web framework too. While I had written hurry.resource to be web-framework independent, to my knowledge nobody used it outside of Grok/Zope 3.
hurry.resource in turn was inspired by a library called zc.resourcelibrary, which did much the same but had a more limited way to describe resources. The resource metadata system was inspired by the system in YUI 2.
In 2010, I, Jan-Wijbrand Kolman and Jan-Jaap Driessen rewrote hurry.resource into a more capable library. We had the realization that by going with WSGI and by making the system serve resources as well, we could create a true web framework for static resources. We decided to rebuild hurry.resource into Fanstatic.
We were also inspired by the capabilities of z3c.hashedresource, a library for Zope 3 that could generate cache-busting URLs that aid caching and development (see Caching). Since Fanstatic controlled both creating inclusions for resources as well as serving them, we could bring cache busting behavior into Fanstatic.
Another clever hack of Fanstatic was to leverage the Python packaging infrastructure (PyPI, setuptools, etc) to distribute static resources and their descriptions. This way we could easily install a variety of client-side libraries, as long as someone had wrapped them using Fanstatic. The community wrapped quite a few libraries.
Unlike hurry.resource, Fanstatic is easy to integrate into any WSGI-based web framework. This helped Fanstatic to become a moderately successful open source project. It was adopted not only by Grok users, but also by many others that use WSGI-based web frameworks. We got quite a few contributions, and a range of advanced features were added to Fanstatic beyond that hurry.resource already provided.
Using the Bower package manager, we can install client-side components without having to go through an intermediary.
Fanstatic has another limitation: just like in Python, you can only have one version of a library installed per project. I was facing a use case where this was not desirable: a large platform with multiple sub-projects that might want to use divergent versions of their client-side components.
So I started thinking about what a static web framework might look like that uses Bower as its underlying packaging system, while retaining some important features of Fanstatic, like automating insertion of link and script tags, static resource serving, and caching.
BowerStatic was born.