The Fight has been revived!

So I’m just going to pretend I was on a “sabbatical” for about a year.

I found blogging difficult because with only so much time in the day, I wanted to spend it actually working on something instead of just writing about it. My other big problem was that I actually wanted to supply blog posts with substance, and not just regurgitate other crap. I did that for a couple posts and it just felt dirty. Then I had some posts about the whole Spindle language thing, which honestly was not quite on topic either.

Eventually I just gave up and stopped caring. When it came time to renew the domain and hosting service, I felt stupid paying the money. Looking back, I only actually wrote 10 posts!

Revival

Basically, two things happened. The first was that I had done enough thinking and learning and soul searching with Spindle that I needed an outlet and feedback, and that of course means the internet.

The other thing that happened was that I saw this posting by Dion Almaer of ajaxian fame. I wanted that job. Like, I realy wanted that job. But I would never leave the job I have now. However, it did get me thinking about my hireability. Sure I’m doing something right now that shows off some pretty good programming chops, but what do I have to show for it. The framework I built isn’t open source, and the project I’m developing isn’t finished. The fact is, I have never really worked on a project that I would really consider finished or successful. Sure a couple minor projects here and there, but I mean, there’s nothing I could point Dion to and say, look at that! I did that!

I started making a list of things I thought would help me feel confident in applying for this job. (Again, not actually doing it, but what would make me confident if I were going to.) Among that list of things was some kind of a web presence. I realized that now that I took down fightfortheopenweb.com, I didn’t even have a site to point to. Being a web developer, that seemed really bad.

Once more, with feeling

So for take two, I’m trying to learn from my mistakes.

  1. Don’t spend money – Until I can be sure I’m on a roll with this, I don’t want to spend any money, that way I won’t end it for fiscal reasons.
  2. Keep it focused – I have a lot to say, but I felt that RE:The Fight was not the right place for most of those thoughts. So I started another blog to keep each one focused on its specific purpose. That one is Spindle Journal as seen on the left.
  3. Just write – I don’t want to just dump crap here, but I’d like to think that if I lower my standards a little, I’ll write more, and then I’ll naturally get better at writing more quality posts faster.

Stay tuned for more on the fight. There has been a lot brewing, and I’ve got a lot to say!

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Mashups

So I tried to think about the web from the perspective of an application platform. Having built what we have, what could we do differently if we could do it from scratch? Clearly, security is one of the biggest problems. It is a problem with existing applications, but many of those security holes can be protected against with effort. The even harder security problems are the ones that have no solution. The kind that are attempting to be solved by Google Gears. Mashups have become a popular idea that cannot meet their true potential due to insecure connections between domains/owners/code bases.

In a recent presentation by Douglas Crockford, he talks about moving the web forward. There is a lot of great stuff here. There always is. But there are two major things that I wanted to address.

  1. “The next great leap [in software] might realize the dream of assembling software like Lego.” He further stated that that leap was being realized already through Mashups.
  2. Mr. Crockford goes on to describe how the current web technologies (both open AND closed) are far too insecure for anything but the most trivial Mashups. He then lays out how the web can move forward:
    • Safe JavaScript subsets (Caja, Cajita, ADsafe)
    • Communicating Vats (Gears)
    • Secure Programming Language (?????)

Interestingly enough, I recently saw something on InfoQ about “Lego” software in a presentation called, “The Lego Hypothesis” by James Noble. His presentation is worth a listen, but it is long and rambling and a little hard to summarize as easily as Douglas Crockford’s. However, the subject matter was relative. He discusses the history and feasibility of the dream of Lego block software. The same concept as described by Crockford in his presentation that he believes will be the “next great leap”. Noble demonstrated the complication in the Lego dream. Mostly that it’s a lot more complicated than plugging different parts together. You cannot build a complete application out of simple reusable parts. Some things have far too many dependencies to be simply abstracted into a reusable plug interface. In contemporary programming the best we can hope for is to glue together what we can to reuse.  Near the end of the presentation, he did in fact point out how Mashups have the right idea and that more and more software will go in that direction.

I agree with Crockford and Noble. The fact is that modern software and the web are fully intertwined. There is no going back to the dark ages of isolated machines. It’s not just about RIA anymore. And the fact is, as we move more and more towards networked information, we will need the ability to integrate between parties that have to operate under mutual suspicion. Crockfords third point about how the web can move forward has some question marks next to it, but I hope that Spindle can be a possible solution. A language with the goals of secure distributed computing.

I know I keep putting this off. I started this post with the intent of actually describing Spindle, but I guess it’ll have to wait till next time.

State of the Web

Things just keep getting better. What can I say. A lot of the fear I had about the open web shriveling up an dying has been all for naught. The Open Web Foundation is pushing to keep ideas and technology open, Google has thrown in their hat with Chrome, and Harmony has spread across the web. yay. Heck, there’s even an Open Web Podcast doing a much better job than me in keeping an accurate post of what’s going on.

But enough of all that! This meaningless blog was never about that stuff. It’s about my practically non-existent pursuit of building the next generation of web technology. I just wrote this post to say that I think we’re moving away from the fears that haunted me in the night. However, I think my gripes about HTML5 are still pretty valid. I’ve been watching the mailing list a lot and I really do think they’re making great progress. What with the video tag and the inter-document communication and all that other crap. I think it’s going to make a lot of people happy. Including me. I just don’t think it’s enough. But I said that already.

Sooo… I’m gonna start talking about what I’VE been doing lately in my tiny tiny tiny amount of free time. At the moment, it’s called Spindle, and it’s a programming language that I’m designing to better handle the problem space of the web and the untapped potential of distributed computing.