2006-01-31 - Alex Russell
Dojo ToolkitAn interview conducted by Lionel Dricot (aka "ploum")
FOSDEM - Please present yourself.
FOSDEM - For some months, Web 2.0 is really hype. Everybody wants to make something "web 2.0". What is "different" with Dojo? What are the competitors on this "market" and why is Dojo better?
Alex Russell - When we started Dojo, "Web2.0" wasn't even a conference yet, let alone a meme in search of a definition. Back then, people who worked on DHTML were a dying breed and what community existed was highly fragmented. Those who were doing professional-quality DHTML work needed to pool our code and to stop re-inventing the wheel, so we started Dojo as a place to consolidate several of the extant libraries (Burst, netWindows, and f(m)). Of course, JJG wrote the Ajax article and the rest is recent history.
FOSDEM - How do you see the future in terms of webapplications and traditionnal applications? Is Web 2.0 an evolution or a revolution?
Alex Russell - Evolution. I think it makes a lot of people feel better about the amount of time they spend re-inventing or re-implementing old things in new environments if they can call it revolution, but at least in the case of current development in browsers, it's quite clearly evolution.
If there was a revolution at all in all of this, it happened when browsers became ubiquitous and markup became the accepted way to declare UIs. The problems we're solving today are about lowering the cost to build richer experiences without losing those advantages. The textuality of the web matters more than I think most people accept, and so improving what we can do natively in a browser with the same amount of effort is always going to be a better investment than trying to build something using plugins or desktop apps. The web already won, we just have to keep it a viable and competitive platform. I sometimes refer to it as defending the Open Web. Things like XAML, Flex, and the like are very clear assaults on the openness of the web as a platform. I have faith that continued evolution of what's capable natively in browsers can prevent a walled-gardens scenario, but it's by no means a forgone conclusion. The 80+% market share browser hasn't changed in half a decade. If that's not an opportunity for closed solutions to eat away at the open web, I don't know what is.
FOSDEM - What, in Dojo, makes you very proud of it?
Alex Russell - The way the team has held itself to high engineering standards is what makes me happiest. From portability to unit tests to packaging to namespaces, Dojo isn't making the same-old naive mistakes. I'm tremendously proud of that.
FOSDEM - What, in Dojo, ashamed you the most?
Alex Russell - A couple of months ago, I would have said a lack of documentation, but the team decided it was important and made API docs happen for the release we just put out. I really don't have much to complain about any more = )
FOSDEM - How do you see the future of Dojo and your own future in the OpenSource world?
Alex Russell - Over the next year, Dojo is going to start growing some hooks into various server-side libraries and frameworks. Things like low-latency data transfer to the browser (Twisted Python, etc.) I think are going to become very important. I hope our focus on more than just Ajax will continue to pay off in those areas.
FOSDEM - What will you talk about at FOSDEM this year (more precisely than just "it will be about Dojo")?
Alex Russell - We've built Aspect Oriented event dispatch into Dojo, which makes doing event-driven programming much better. I'll also cover how we build topic-based event notification on top of it. If there's time, and if we have a suitable demo, I'll also try to show off some of the server-pushed data and event stuff we're working on.
FOSDEM - What do you expect from FOSDEM and what makes you happy (if any) to come here in Belgium?
Alex Russell - I'm looking forward to meeting folks from many of the Open Source projects I use and admire.
FOSDEM - Thanks you for your answers, for coming to FOSDEM and for your involvement in Free Software.
Alex Russell - Thanks again for having me!
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