With Ajax Having Been Experienced…

Posted in Articles, Prototype

That’s right — I just used the perfect passive participle. Deal with it.

Everyone else is doing it, so I suppose I have to do a postmortem on The Ajax Experience.

IE.next and JavaScript

The just‐released Internet Explorer 7 features only a few crumbs for JavaScript developers, so I respect Chris Wilson and the rest of the representatives from the IE team for coming out and facing a firing squad.

Bottom line: expect improvements to the scripting environment in IE.next, not IE.someday, and expect an open dialogue between the IE team and the JavaScript community (similar to the one that took place with the CSS community prior to IE7).

It looks like WaSP — particularly the Microsoft and DOM Scripting Task Forces — will facilitate this discussion, and I hope the major frameworks can play a part as well. As I pointed out to Pete LePage, they’ll have succeeded if we’re able to remove code from our libraries.

In the meantime, we’ve got Dean Edwards on our side, so I’m not afraid of anything that IE’s DOM scripting environment can throw at me. Bring it on!

The Immediate Future of Prototype

First, let me thank Justin Gehtland for three excellent sessions: two on Prototype and one on Scriptaculous. His presentations exemplified the sort of passion and love for one’s tools that we hope Prototype can evoke in anyone who uses it.

I also owe him a beer for pointing out a bug (or at least an inconsistency) on‐stage: I was able to write a two‐line fix, test it, and submit a patch less than 20 minutes later.

Which brings me to a larger issue: Justin Palmer has mentioned how he, Dan, and I are working on Prototype documentation. This is true, but I’d like to go further: we’re working on building a Prototype community.

Prototype was created by one dude with a full‐time job, and at a certain point the work of maintaining an open‐source framework gets overwhelming. Ask yourself if Rails would have gotten to version 1.2 if DHH had decided to go it alone. Sam’s still the ace starter, but now he’s got a bullpen of relievers and closers.

We’re going to build a site for Prototype that everyone can be proud of. We want people adding their own comments to documentation. We want people to tell us about blog posts they’ve written about Prototype. We want to ensure people know where to go to report bugs and submit patches.

Most importantly, we’re working hard to get a 1.5 release out the door. It’ll be soon. I promise.

The Slightly‐Less‐Immediate Future of Prototype

We’re thinking long‐term as well. The next major release after 1.5 will be 2.0; the leap in version number indicates just how broad the changes will be. To the extent that we have a roadmap, we’re tentatively scheduling any major changes that break backwards compatibility for the 2.0 release. This isn’t bug‐fix stuff — we’re talking about new idioms, new functionality, and new ideas for improving the quality‐of‐life of our fellow JavaScript developers.

Other Remarks

I was thrilled to meet some of the people with whom I’ve been trading e‐mails for months: Justin Palmer and Dan Webb — my Prototype cohorts — as well as WaSPer Aaron Gustafson and JQuery creator John Resig. It was also great to meet Chris Wilson of the IE team and WaSP imperator Molly Holzschlag.

I’m grateful to Aaron for offering me one of his free passes to the conference, or else there’s no way I would’ve made it. And I echo Dan’s praise for the Ajaxian guys for giving two free passes to each speaker, or else Justin wouldn’t have been there, or Pete Forde, or half the Dojo guys I ended up talking to.

I’m grateful to Brendan Eich for his ongoing contributions. In his keynote he remarked that he felt a bit like George Lucas, finding himself in the midst of a phenomenon he created eleven years ago. He talked about Firefox 2 and the upcoming ECMAScript 4/JavaScript 2 proposal, building upon and extending the presentation he gave at the first TAE earlier this year. The new details are exciting. I look forward to the day when we’ll finally be able to use JS2 in the web at‐large; I expect that to happen mere minutes before the earth crashes into the sun, but I hope I’m wrong. (And for the record: JS2 will be a lot better than the Star Wars prequels.)

To conclude: I’m excited about the community that JavaScript developers have built, and I can’t wait to continue the dialogue at SxSW 2007.