Sep 25

Web platform + Mobile future = A new adventure; Joining Palm with Ben

Palm, Tech 42 Comments »


I remember watching the Palm Pre coming out party at CES with Ben and thinking “wow”. Palm had bet big. They had bet on the Web platform being the base for their new amazing hardware device, and becoming their platform going forward. Given the lead time required to create a device, I was impressed by their forward thinking. It was at this time that Ben and I were exploring how far we could push the Web as an application platform by creating Bespin with the Mozilla Labs team.

Fast forward to today, and I find myself taking on a new challenge with Palm. I will be joining Ben, my best friend, partner in crime, and fellow Ajaxian, as we take a new role as Director’s of the Palm Developer Relations team. We will have the responsibility of the developer experience with Palm. We will be trying to create a rich connective tissue between the company and the Web developer community that we love.

This feels like a pivotal time for the Web. We have a convergence of:

  • The personal Web (some are calling this the you-centric Web)
  • Mobile is truly here. With smart phones that are full computing powerhouses, we are seeing amazing experiences thanks to hardware and software working together
  • The Web browser has become a rich platform and powerful runtime

It also feels like we have only just begun. Browsers aren’t just getting a touch faster, they are getting exponential performance improvements. With HTML5, we are getting new richer APIs that cater for developers trying to create applications versus pages.

I have only really dabbled in the mobile world up until now. I have always been excited about consumer electronics, but never really got into the developer environments. I remember looking at the testing setups at companies such as Google, and realizing the pain in getting applications working across a huge slew of different proprietary API and capability. There is a massive opportunity with Palm webOS to give Web developers the ability to deploy outside of the browser, and onto the device.

I have long been frustrated with the status quo with certain platforms, and as I thought about what makes me happy as a developer, it is freedom, choice, and information flow. I feel passionately about bringing these values to mobile, and carry my Web DNA with me. When Palm came to Ben and I, we were curious to see how much they understood what it really meant to have a “webOS”. The management team impressed us, and persuaded us that they understand how important the principles of the Web are, as well as the crucial role of developers. By giving us the honor of this responsibility, they signal their intent.

Speaking of the Open Web, that brings me to Mozilla. It is a unique opportunity to work for a mission based organization such as Mozilla. They gave us the chance to work on projects that we care deeply about such as Bespin. Bespin has already grown beyond our dreams. It feels like we get daily emails from developers talking about how they are using Bespin in their own projects. Embedding it here, hacking on it there. You gotta love open source. I want to make it clear that Bespin will continue to go from strength to strength, and I can’t wait to see it revolutionize the way that we build applications. There is a fantastic community around the project, and the Mozilla Developer Tools Lab will continue the charge. It has been hard to move on, but the fact that Mozilla is a community gives us a unique opportunity to continue to work with the Bespin project. You can’t say that about too many companies out there.

So, I want to thank the Mozilla community and look forward to continuing to work for the Open Web with you. The crew in both Labs and the entire company is phenomenal. I can’t wait to see the great things that will continue to come out of the project.

Now is the time to knuckle down to create the most amazing developer experience in a mobile environment for you. I look forward to set an example with Ben on treating developers humanely, with trust and transparency. I won’t just use the word “open”, I will define what it means to us.

I hope to see you on the flip side, and look forward to continuing to participate in the Web community with you!

Sep 14

Data Liberation is great, but how about owning it?

Google, Tech with tags: 6 Comments »

It was exciting to see Fitz launch today. You probably saw it:

Users own the data they store in any of Google’s products. Our team’s goal is to give users greater control by making it easier for them to move data in and out.

It is a pretty big deal what Fitz and his “Data Liberation Front” has done. Not only do you have the politics of making it happen, but think of the logistics involved in getting teams at Google to prioritize import/export in front of other features. It takes a lot of time. Good on you for fighting the fight guys.

Ragavan has posted some thoughts linking to the Guardian article and Glyn Moody.

I agree that this is a huge step, but very much the first step:

  • Being able to import/export data is a good start
  • Being able to say “delete all notion of my being here” is important
  • Having fine grained control of access is great
  • Being the center of the gravity of your own data, where you grant access and rights to it, would be awesome.

It is great to see a light shining on the issue. Hopefully this is the start of a conversation. One where we can discuss who owns our data, and where we can clearly recognize the rights that we have. I want to be able to understand your business model and see the value that you give me. Then, I can decide what access to my data I want to give. Ragavan has some good words here:

Personally, I think Data liberation (or data portability as it has been called formerly) applies as much to your data as it does to data about you. One of the big concerns about Google (and a number of other cloud computing players) is the amount of data they have compiled about you – online profiling, if you will. What sites you visit, what you buy, your likes and dislikes, your email – everything is mined, processed and used to improve your web experience (and to serve you ads).

So, while you may be able to liberate your data and move it to a different service, it is unclear what it means with regards to your online profile. I guess you could export your web history, but is that all Google knows about me? In fact, what does Google know about me? A related question that would be good to get clarification on is whether there is an option to permanently delete your data once you’ve exported it.

Another factor to consider is how you define what “your data” is. For example, if you look at it as just exporting your photos out of Picasa and importing them to flickr, I’d posit that’s a rather simplistic view. A large part of what makes your data useful and valuable is all the relationships associated with it. I share my photos with my friends and family, I license some under Creative Commons, I group them, I tag them – all of these make my data very context rich. How do you liberate this context? And if you do, what does it mean to import them elsewhere?

These are hard questions and I’m sure there are several more to ask. But these are the very questions that need to be answered as we move towards the people-centric web (or the you-centric web as some of us like to call it).

Sep 11

Chuck Finley can see you deploying your code; Bespin 0.4.3

Bespin 2 Comments »

Kevin has done a great job in his round up of the 0.4.3 Chuck Finley release of Bespin.

It may be a point release, but there is a lot of great stuff here.

Joe keeps improving on the solid collaboration work, and in this release we see nice needed features, like the ability to track where other collaborators are via cursor:

That feature will get prettier, and hopefully soon we will have the ability to show exactly who typed what.

Kevin has added a “deploy” command that allows you to take your project and sync it up to your webhost:

It is built on the cool omnisync open source project.

Go open source!

We have some awesome plans for 0.5 and beyond too. The team is really cranking.