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Interview: Dylan Schiemann

Dylan Schiemann will give a talk about the Dojo Toolkit at FOSDEM 2010.

Could you briefly introduce yourself?

I'm Dylan Schiemann, co-founder of the Dojo Toolkit and CEO of SitePen, Inc.

What will your talk be about, exactly?

I'll talk about how to quickly build more advanced and high performance web applications, using Dojo as the example for doing so. It will be to the point and applied, yet cover broad-reaching topics that should be useful for anyone interested in web apps.

What do you hope to accomplish by giving this talk? What do you expect?

I hope to show off some of the possibilities of using Dojo and get people excited about Dojo and the open web. I expect a lot of questions and interest.

What's the history of the Dojo Toolkit project? And how did it evolve?

It started 5 years ago with Alex Russell, David Schontzler, and I wanting to not reinvent the wheel every time we started a new project. We wanted to create a toolkit for anyone to use and/or contribute to. We quickly grew our contributor base, and with our 0.2 release, we drew the interest of IBM, AOL, and Sun who became contributors as well. Almost six years later, we're up to our 1.4 release and have hundreds of thousands of users worldwide, with Dojo appearing in many of the world's most advanced web applications.

How does Dojo Toolkit compare with other JavaScript frameworks? What is its unique selling point?

We're generally known for pushing the envelope and being the first of the major toolkits to solve particularly challenging engineering problems. Dojo is competitive with toolkits small and large, with a very modular and highly performant toolkit.

What do you mean specifically by "high performance" in the title of your talk "Building High Performance Web Applications with the Dojo Toolkit"?

Creating feature-rich applications that are responsive and fast for end-users. Dojo typically leads the performance race, but also makes it easy to add real-time Comet capabilities and other features that give users applications that do a lot without sacrificing performance.

How many developers are working on the Dojo Toolkit?

Each release has contributions from about 25 committers, out of about 75 total committers. Patches are received from the much larger Dojo community.

What new features will we see in the Dojo Toolkit in 2010?

I think we're still figuring that out to some extent, but certainly an increased emphasis on things that are useful for mobile apps, major improvements to grids and charts, new themes, an improved plug-in/extension architecture, and a lot more are planned for this year.

What were the reasons to found the Dojo Foundation? And why does it support non-Dojo projects if "Dojo" is in its name?

We wanted an entity that would own the copyright for the code, as copyright Dylan, Alex, and David didn't seem right. We wanted something that was extremely straightforward that did not have bureaucracy... basically an open source model to a foundation. Each Dojo Foundation project is pretty autonomous and other than following a few basic rules, is as dependent or independent as it wants to be.

The Apache and Eclipse foundations have shown that they take on many projects beyond their original name. Dojo is just a name that people know... we want to be an open home for the open web, so when the right project comes along, we make it work. It's less about Dojo the Toolkit and more about great open source web software.

What is the Dojo Toolbox that your company Sitepen has developed?

It's an AIR application using Dojo that provides some nice developer tools for using Dojo. That said, we have a new application coming out that works on AIR 2.0 that's even better, which I will show off during my talk!

Have you enjoyed previous FOSDEM editions?

I've heard great things about FOSDEM, but this is the first time I've been lucky enough to get to attend. Alex presented at a previous FOSDEM and really enjoyed it. A truly open conference is a really great idea, and I'm very excited to see it in action.

Creative Commons License
This interview is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Belgium License.