Links for 2007.12.11

» Monsters of the Programming World
Distraction Dragons and Quick Hack bacteria

» Datejs: A Truly Slick Date Script
“You type in a date into the form box in a just about any way you can imagine (semantically or with standard dashes and slashes), and it will translate that into a formatted, database friendly version of the date.”

» It’s Hard to Find Something to Watch Online
“When looking to watch online video, U.S. Internet users are more likely to browse than utilize recommendations or search engines, according to a new study commissioned by web personalization service ChoiceStream.”

Google’s strategy to win the next API war

Joel has recently published an article speculating on the future standardization of the Ajax user interface:

So if history repeats itself, we can expect some standardization of Ajax user interfaces to happen in the same way we got Microsoft Windows. Somebody is going to write a compelling SDK that you can use to make powerful Ajax applications with common user interface elements that work together. And whichever SDK wins the most developer mindshare will have the same kind of competitive stronghold as Microsoft had with their Windows API.

Imagine, for example, that you’re Google with GMail, and you’re feeling rather smug. But then somebody you’ve never heard of, some bratty Y Combinator startup, maybe, is gaining ridiculous traction selling NewSDK, which combines a great portable programming language that compiles to JavaScript, and even better, a huge Ajaxy library that includes all kinds of clever interop features. Not just cut ‘n’ paste: cool mashup features like synchronization and single-point identity management (so you don’t have to tell Facebook and Twitter what you’re doing, you can just enter it in one place). And you laugh at them, for their NewSDK is a honking 232 megabytes … 232 megabytes! … of JavaScript, and it takes 76 seconds to load a page. And your app, GMail, doesn’t lose any customers.

But then, while you’re sitting on your googlechair in the googleplex sipping googleccinos and feeling smuggy smug smug smug, new versions of the browsers come out that support cached, compiled JavaScript. And suddenly NewSDK is really fast. And Paul Graham gives them another 6000 boxes of instant noodles to eat, so they stay in business another three years perfecting things.

Interesting. I wonder if this is exactly what Google’s strategy is – develop a standardized Ajax SDK, a speedy JavaScript engine and tied into Firefox. Clearly this could all be launched alongside a new version of Google’s office suite and Firefox 3.

Google working on a new JavaScript engine (hopefully, maybe)

I’ve just got home from a very enjoyable few days at SPA 2007, where Dave Thomas was one of the keynote speakers. As anyone who has heard Dave speak will know, he has some strong views on the direction and utility of different languages (in particular UML, Java and Dynamic Programming Languages); and he is one of the founding members of the agile manifesto. So when I ended up sitting next to him at dinner one night I was excited to learn a bit more about his ideas and experience in managing large scale agile projects and the future of programming.

So this is what he thought: Next year Google will launch a JavaScript engine that will result in a massive ramp-up in performance – such that it is at least as fast as Java is today! Wow! And that Microsoft will then be forced to respond and follow suit. He thought that, initially, the engine would be designed as an application to run on the desktop, but as Dave Thomas pointed out, if JavaScript applications can run as fast as Java apps why not run it on the server too?

Obviously this would makes a lot of sense for Google – and fits well with Steve Yegge’s post about the next big language.