Strategic Blindness

On his Strategy Letter VI article, Joel writes about something that many people are starting to realize: that the current Web 2.0 is not much better than Smart (or even Dumb!) Terminal days, when you had to care about memory constraints and there were no standards for interop between applications, or even UI guidelines.

Then after a short history lesson, he speculates that people should stop worrying about the size of their JavaScript and that eventually JavaScript would be compiled to native code a new portable language will appear that can be compiled to JavaScript (did someone tell him about GWT at all?).

What’s going to happen? The winners are going to do what worked at Bell Labs in 1978: build a programming language, like C, that’s portable and efficient. It should compile down to “native” code (native code being JavaScript and DOMs) with different backends for different target platforms, where the compiler writers obsess about performance so you don’t have to. It’ll have all the same performance as native JavaScript with full access to the DOM in a consistent fashion, and it’ll compile down to IE native and Firefox native portably and automatically. And, yes, it’ll go into your CSS and muck around with it in some frightening but provably-correct way so you never have to think about CSS incompatibilities ever again. Ever. Oh joyous day that will be.

Well, after Paul Graham said that Microsoft is Dead, the only thing I can think of is that Joel has started to believe Paul’s lie, and stopped paying attention to what comes out of Microsoft.

Everyone that is paying attention to Silverlight and has not been blinded by the anti-Microsoft FUD, something that even the Linux Foundation executive director condemns, will realize where Microsoft is heading with the introduction of the DLR, specially if you make the connection between Joel’s post and Managed JScript. I really hope that people will soon take their tinfoil hats off and start paying more attention to what’s coming out of Microsoft, specially since there is an option in Mono, which is a completely open implementation of .NET, and now with Moonlight a JavaScript compiler  will be soon hitting your beloved Linux Desktop anytime now.

And listen, Joel. We don’t need no new stinking portable language that can compile to JavaScript. If we get to write code in our own lovely favorite language, be it Python or even Ruby, being able to access the dreaded DOM and to top it off compile it to native machine code, what could be better than that?

In other news, if you just consider the approach of making JavaScript faster instead of compiling it, you might want to keep an eye on Mozilla’s Tamarin Project. Mum’s the word that some exciting news will be coming out of that in the near future.

One thought on “Strategic Blindness

  1. Joel! The first time I read the article I read the final summary, “Crazy story? Substitute “Google Gmail” with “Lotus 1-2-3″. The NewSDK will be the second coming of Microsoft Windows; this is exactly how Lotus lost control of the spreadsheet market.” I was expecting to read, “Crazy story? Substitute “Google Gmail” with “Lotus 1-2-3″. The NewSDK will be the second coming of Microsoft; this is exactly how Silverlight will gain control of the RIA market.”

    Microsoft has been schelping out a lot of “meh” of late, but Silverlight is an exception. Run Python in your browser? Manipulate the DOM from Python? A responsive, cross-platform user interface? Talks seamlessly to Ruby, Javascript and friends? That’s pretty damn sexy technology.

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