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Ben is Vice President of Global Products at Walmart.com, where he works closely with his long-time friend Dion Almaer.

Do you remember how much the Web used to suck?

Not so long ago, we Web developers would have to constantly educate product managers and other business stakeholders about the limitations of HTML; we would often contrast it with so-called “rich client” technologies.

Over the past few years, we’ve all watched with wonder as these boundaries have disappeared and the Ajax revolution brought us a never-ending supply of rich web applications.

And while Ajax started out as web developers leveraging little-used so-called “latent” browser technologies, browser makers haven’t been sitting idle. Modern browsers are acquiring new abilities at a pace not seen since the early years of the Web–most of which are largely unused by today’s web applications.

Dion and I started Ajaxian.com a few years back when we like many others felt that a revolution was about to take place, and we’ve been fortunate to be able to chronicle a bit of it as it happened. We feel like the Web is similarly positioned today, ready for another expansion as developers discover and leverage the next generation of browsers.

Bespin Logo

We’ve been fortunate to do a bit of that expansion ourselves at Mozilla with the Bespin project. What Dion and I started as an experiment to see if we could create a code editor on the Web as responsive as the desktop has turned into a full-fledged project team aiming to revolutionize the way the world writes code.

At the same time the Web has been expanding, we’ve all been blown away as desktop computers have somehow shrunk down to pocket size. Clearly a revolution in hardware is taking place and it doesn’t take a prophet to work out that the future of computing lies along this new trajectory.

However, my enthusiasm for this amazing new world is tempered by some unfortunate decisions made by some of the players in this space. It seems that some view this revolution as a chance to seize power in downright Orwellian ways by constraining what we as developers can say, dictating what kinds of apps we can create, controlling how we distribute our apps, and placing all kinds of limits on what can do to our computing devices.

palm

And so as my good friend and long-time collaborator Dion so eloquently explains over at his blog, he and I have taken an opportunity to work at Palm–at the very intersection of these two exciting technology arcs–and we have the opportunity to run Palm’s developer program and to do things quite a bit differently than some others in the industry have done.

Dion and I believe in the Web platform–an open platform that no single vendor controls–and we believe in empowering and enabling developers. We have been honored to work with so many who feel the same way at Mozilla, we will continue to advocate those values as members of the Mozilla community, and we can’t wait to put these ideals into practice in our work at Palm.

Comments

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  1. September 25, 2009

    Ben, shamelessly repeating myself I’ll repost what I posted on Dion’s blog: Welcome aboard the webOS roller coaster! It’s very exciting to see Palm taking the developer experience so seriously. I look forward to the changes you and Ben will bring. I won’t say that Palm has been hiding information from developers but there has been a sense that there’s not a firm plan in place that makes getting information to developers a priority. Chuq has been doing a fantastic job with the community relations but he needs backup.
    [And I got to fix a typo, too!]

  2. September 25, 2009

    That’s interesting, we’ve been thinking about a WordPress WebOS app, partly because I used to run the Palm Users Group in Houston. :)

  3. September 25, 2009

    (And we’ve been having trouble finding developers for it.)

  4. Venks #
    September 25, 2009

    What a bunch of bs. Will palm have no approval process for it’s apps? And where were you when iPhone had no SDK? Why didn’t you develop for iPhone safari then.
    You are perfect socialistic idelogues. Apple innovates and you don’t like it. You would be more happier if moto razr were the market leader.

  5. September 25, 2009

    I really like what you said about the Orwellian sense of a need for control. This technology advancement empowers people, which is great but it also gives more opportunity for a company/s to control what data, what applications etc. the user can access – this is simply wrong and something as advocates of an open web, we should also be against in platforms.

  6. David McGuigan #
    September 26, 2009

    Welcome to Palm! I’m so excited about WebOS that I just threw something.

  7. Steven Harris #
    September 26, 2009

    I liked the old days, when Ajax was a scouring powder and developers built housing estates.

    http://doctorbeatnik.wordpress.com/

  8. dmitri smyslov #
    September 26, 2009

    Spare us the sanctimony. Your actions will speak for themselves.

  9. September 26, 2009

    search engines still like HTML 4.0

  10. Homer #
    September 26, 2009

    Sanctimony anyone?
    I should point out that Apple allows anyone to create powerful web apps with guaranteed distribution. And with HTML 5 and offline storage you can pretty much do anything.

    Talk to me when you guys have a real SDK.

  11. Ben Galbraith #
    September 26, 2009

    Thanks for the comments, all.

    I couldn’t agree more that actions speak louder than words.

  12. Andre Richards #
    September 29, 2009

    Problem is, the world is not developer-centric. Nobody out there gives a rip what developers have the freedom to do. What matters is what works and what makes sense. To this day, Internet Explorer, for all its failings and weaknesses, is still the most used browser on the planet–that despite the fact that freedom lovers everywhere use and advocate the infinitely more open Firefox.

    Everything in tech revolves around the users, not the developers. You’ll see big changes only if developers can somehow one-up Apple on their seemingly flawless track record when it comes catering to the consumers.

    Frankly, I wouldn’t bet on that happening.

  13. September 30, 2009

    My advince to you is to extract as much money as possible from Palm, because with Palm’s current decision making the company not going to be around long enough for you to have job security.

    And as someone who used to like Palm and is watching what they’ve become, I can’t wait.

  14. September 30, 2009

    Pity that the free thinking world is losing you and you’re going to a closed-view company. Well, perhaps you can make them turn over to become as open as e.g. Nokia is trying hard to be.

  15. david hsu #
    December 1, 2009

    hi ben-

    is there a way that i can contact you and Dion directly?
    i can be reached at dhsu@skunk2.com

    thanks

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

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  11. Mozilla coders join Palm, apparently jabbing Apple | Kios Geek. It's All About Geek
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  13. Dion Almaer und Ben Galbraith gehen von Mozilla zu Palm | korbinian-pauli.de
  14. Mozilla verliert Web-Programmierer an Palm - Internet | News | ZDNet.de
  15. Dion&Ben from Ajaxian going to Palm « Cjed Audio blog
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