On My Watch

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Open Source Software (OSS) and Ajax

In looking at all the open source activity around Ajax (here is a good list including Dojo, Google, Microsoft Atlas, Yahoo - from last year but a good place to start - to which I'd also like to add Apache XAP - Full disclosure: I have been a consultant to Nexaweb - contributors of the technology comprising this Apache incubator project - since the beginning of the year), it got me to thinking - is Open Javascript any different from other open source?

So I went back and started looking at all kinds of data points, ranging from the canonical (such as Cathedral and Bazaar) to the pragmatic discussions of commercial business models (such as Taber) and lots in between (including Greg Stein's Apache vs Eclipse, and looser models like SourceForge) and considered the nature of the language itself.

So where do I come out? I guess the following themes emerge:
  • Open source is innovation. Since many of the most talented developers and experts are engaged in open source for a whole host of reasons, solving the problems that invariably need to be solved (such as name space collisions, memory utilization, debugging to name a few) virtually require their involvement - particularly if we want these problems to be solved sooner rather than later. Honey attracts the bees - if you want bees, go to where the honey is.
  • Code is already visible. Isn't Javascript already "open source" by its very nature? Should code be obfuscated or should this be embraced? Embrace it.
  • Javascript is social. As a key underpinning to social neworking, it is already part of the architecture of participation, of community. Leverage community.
  • There is a lot to do. To make Ajax really work well, particularly for businesses, more invention and problem solving needs to be done. Again, go to where the bees are.

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