Monthly Archives: September 2007

Strategy Letter VI – Joel on Software

Joel Spolsky has an excellent essay on his blog about AJAX web apps and where they’re headed. The essay is entitled Strategy Letter VI – Joel on Software and I highly recommend it!

I used to be very enthusiastic about a startup that originated at MIT called Curl Corporation that did much of what Joel talks about with one major exception, instead of targeting JavaScript, they targeted their own runtime. Now that has the major disadvantage that users must download the runtime in order to run client-side Curl code, but the widespread adoption of Flash (which sucks in comparison because it was designed for visual effects) leads me to believe that if they had decided to freely distribute their runtime (for commercial as well as non-commercial use), then they would be rulers of the web by now. Their language is fairly Lispy like Joel talks about in his essay, and was a joy to use, but alas, they decided to take the short-term route and market their technology to large corporations for intranet applications. I tend to think that if they had taken the long-term strategy of targeting the entire web, then we would all be using Curl now and enjoying very rich client-side web apps instead of bickering about how to best AJAXify your web-site/application.

At this point in time, I think Joel is spot-on about the need to target JavaScript, instead of creating a new runtime, because that avoids the chicken and egg dilemma. But the devil is in the details. It may be a considerable challenge to seamlessly target Microsoft’s, Apple’s and Mozilla’s JavaScript engines.