Data Liberation is great, but how about owning it? An intense couple of weeks; Palm Developer Program announced
Sep 25

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

Palm, Tech Add 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!

42 Responses to “Web platform + Mobile future = A new adventure; Joining Palm with Ben”

  1. Andrew Mager Says:

    Make webOS platform easier to USE!! And develop for. And make the documentation better please. I’ll help even! Good luck and congrats! :)

  2. Robin Berjon Says:

    This sounds like excellent news! Can we have some W3C Widgets in there, as well as more cool stuff coming from HTML5/WebApps/DAP?

    A development environment that doesn’t rely on an IDE and doesn’t suck would be awesome. Where does the community sign up to help?

  3. Schill Says:

    Dang, I was hoping I’d see more nifty projects coming from you guys while at Mozilla. That said, mobile has potential to blow up pretty big from what I hear – so, keep making shiny things, and thanks for looking out for us JS-heads.

  4. Kent Brewster Says:

    Congratulations, you guys, and thanks for betting big on the open platform.

  5. Pre 101 Says:

    Welcome aboard the webOS roller coaster! It’s very exciting to see Palm taking the developer experience so seriously. I look forward to the changes you and Ben will bring. I won’t say that Palm has been hiding information from developers but there has been a sense that there’s not a firm plan in place that makes getting information to developers a priority. Chuq has been doing a fantastic job with the community relations but he need backup.

  6. Steve Souders Says:

    I’m so psyched to build mobile apps in a dev environment I know and love. When’s the first conference?!

  7. Cote' Says:

    Congrats to the both of you. I’m looking forward to seeing you apply the same developer-centric think mojo you did at Mozilla to Palm.

  8. Alexander Ainslie (@AAinslie) Says:

    Congrats and good luck!

  9. Rick Boatright @rboatright Says:

    Welcome to the webOS fold! It’s addictive and exciting. Not since the 1980’s has a computer technology so gripped me and involved me in the community.

    As you and Dion begin working with the webOS community, please reach out to the community resources which are ALREADY here and providing developer coordination and assistance.

    The team is looking forward to the sort of open relations you guys are known for. Welcome aboard!

  10. Vadim Spivak Says:

    Congrats, looking forward to what you guys do at Palm!

  11. Nima Dilmaghani Says:


    I look forward to hearing about how you push the mobile web forward with your new position.

  12. dl Says:


    Congratulations… I would really like to chat about transmedia interactive story…the phone, the tv, the cloud and story/interface. We have a lot of production going on could use your input now more than ever…and we have always been looking at the palm pre because of the simultaneous use OS.

  13. Christian Cantrell Says:

    Congratulations to you and Ben both! I’ve spent a fair amount of time playing with webOS and I really like it (even wrote a couple of apps). I’m dying for the Pre to come to other carriers so I can pick one up. I think it has a great deal of potential and is one of the most interesting innovations in mobile today.

  14. Eugene Lazutkin Says:

    Congratulations, guys! I am looking forward to cool projects you and Ben will do for mobile platforms!

  15. Chris Messina Says:

    Wow, congrats Dion! Makes sense, but can’t say I saw it coming! Cheers and good luck!

  16. Patrick Chanezon Says:

    Congrats Dion, you and Ben moving to Palm will give us even more opportunities to collaborate on evangelizing openweb standards to more developers.
    This rocks!


  17. rdza Says:

    Congratulations! Mobile is definitely the future, I really hope Palm gives you guys the resources you need to make a difference.
    Now how about an HTML5 accelerometer (and magnetometer|gyroscope) WHATWG spec submission (or modification to the geolocation spec) like Palm promised back at Google IO? That + an implementation and I’d buy a Pre in a second ;-)

  18. Todd Ditchendorf Says:

    Very good move on Palm’s part. webOS is fantastic, but really needs some more good developer spokesmen. Can’t think of anyone better suited than you two.

  19. Dan Connolly Says:

    My enthusiasm for the android platform has been fading, and now this.
    Wow. Time to take another look at the Pre.

  20. Claes Mogren Says:

    Congratulations and good luck at Palm! I’m definitely worried that Bespin will die now though. The roadmap was last updated in April and I wonder how much momentum the project has at this stage.

  21. randomdev Says:

    Good news indeed!
    Hopefully you guys can help Palm simplify development (Why do I need an SDK to create “web” apps?). Perhaps even open-source webOS?

  22. David McGuigan Says:

    WebOS is pure genius. Please exploit it. Thanks.

  23. Frank W. Zammetti Says:

    Welcome to the adventure guys! I’ve been having a blast with webOS and my Pre over the past few months as I work on my webOS book (shameless plug: … we’re pushing to get it out in December) and I think you’re going to have a great time. Palm has been making almost nothing but the right moves IMO and it’s so fat been a pleasure to be a part of it. If there’s anything you think a lowly author can do to help, let me know :) (FYI, in light of this announcement it’s a shame my webOS talk for TAE didn’t happen, it would have been very timely indeed… if you guys run another conference any time soon, I’m available for that presentation if you want).

  24. Frank W. Zammetti Says:

    Err… fat should have been far in that previous comment, obviously :)

  25. Ron Bodkin Says:

    Congrats on the new challenge Dion and Ben. I’m sure that mobile phones will be improved by your efforts at Palm, no matter what happens.

  26. Ryan Says:

    Nice one, I myself am passionate about the mobile web and where it’s heading.

    Would be good to know if webOS will be looking at adopting the BONDI spec ( that would help cement the “web as a platform” ideology.

  27. Ben Forta Says:

    Congrats to the both of you, and good luck with the new venture. webOS is exciting, and a strong developer program is going to be critical to delivering on that pent up potential. I’m hoping you guys can make it happen! Best of luck with it!

    Ben Forta

  28. Ernest Delgado Says:

    Congrats Dion and Ben. I am excited you bring your knowledge and experience to a new field where I am sure you will make a difference.
    See you soon! ;)

  29. Jerome Denanot Says:

    Great news, congrats Dion ! I’m assured you will have room to do really nice things (and that will be helpful for other as well).
    I just had to moderate what Ben said about “Orwellian ways” (I hope you won’t offense) :


  30. Amanda Surya Says:

    Congrats on the new gig Dion! That’s exciting!


  31. James Jones Says:

    Can you comment on the experiences this fellow had:

    The local Sprint kiosk in the mall across the street says they’ll have a Pre for me two days from now, but reading about what he’s had to go through (with no luck yet!) makes me wonder how many developers will bother.

  32. michael Says:

    Ye gods, people, learn to use apostrophes! “Director’s of the Palm blah blah” – that apostrophe is possessive, you don’t want it there.

    See here also

  33. Robert Kaiser Says:

    The Palm Pre was not a “wow” but rather an “ouch” for me – another closed Linux device :(

    If anything, I’d hope you’d get some real openness into that company – currently Nokia is leading the open-thinking-device market with maemo. Would be nice if Palm would get to that mindset – they once has really good devices.

  34. JDS Says:

    Agree with James Jones — please comment on JWZ’s blog post:


  35. RedGrittyBrick Says:

    Please do respond concerning

  36. Alan Green Says:

    Congratulations Dion! Wishing you and Ben a bright, bright future with Palm, and looking forward.

  37. Alexandra Crisafulli Says:

    Congrats. As a loyal Palm T|X user, I have been waiting for a very long time for Palm to update its software so I can hotsync with my Windows Motion tablet. I’m on the verge of ditching Palm all together because of its non-functionality with my tablet. And I haven’t purchased a Pre for this reason, also. What gives?

  38. Nick Harvey Says:

    Hey Dion, this is great news. I think it’s an exciting paradigm, using web technologies as the platform for local applications. I think both yourself and Ben will be very valuable members of the Palm team. I just hope they exploit your many talents.

    My only selfish request is for the developer tools to be brought up to the standard of the webOS, decent debugger and improved Eclipse plugin. Besides that, well done!

  39. texthelpers Says:

    well it is good to see that people are advocating for the elderly who need information on mobile platform.

  40. Asrar Says:


    I just got a Palm Pre last week. Your involvement with Palm strongly influenced my decision (was torn between iphone, blackberry or palm pre). So far I have very happy with my choice.

    Keep up the good work!

  41. szunyog Says:

    Great news, congrats Dion ! Palm has been making almost nothing but the right moves IMO and it’s so fat been a pleasure to be a part of it.

  42. nana Says:

    I think it has a great deal of potential and is one of the most interesting innovations in mobile nowaday.

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