Thanks to John for sending in this tip! John writes:
I recently published my open source ESP8266-12E (although I hope to make it compatible with even the ESP8266-01) firmware. It’s a step above any of the other firmwares out there that provide similar tools and it is really pretty polished.
Built in WiFi configuration management w/Web interface via direct AP
connection and/or network config
Built in jQuery/MiniCSS for UI dev
Built in MQTT client, DNS Server for WiFi Config
Built in OTA Firmware updates
I wrote this for the 15 or so IOT devices I’ve built using the ESP8266 platform, and it works great — it’s also available on the Arduino library for anyone else to use.