The Day of JS event yesterday was fantastic! Thanks to Google and the MJG crew for putting it together and hosting. Great set of presentations and discussion, and I was blown away by the set of folks in the audience.
The state of the mobile web presentation that Dion Almaer and Ben Galbraith from Ajaxian did at the start was a fantastic summary for someone like me. I frequently say “I’m not a web developer” so that no one would confuse me with the folks who live and breathe JS and CSS3. However I’m also not a “native guy” either. I try to use the right tool for the job, so I’m not really in any technology camp at all.
I have a long history of working on the mobile web actually. Sitting in the sessions yesterday I was blown away by how different of an environment we have over quite a short time. In particular during the talk from Alex Russell about browser support and during the state of the mobile web talk it reminded me of a set of discussions we had in June of 2007 about applying the AJAX model to mobile. The points that Dion and Ben made summarized the set of issues way better than I ever have. There are three important components to making a development platform work:
- Platform Distribution
- Platform Capabilities
The first two points echo the discussion we were having in 2007, with the difference being that now mobile browsers don’t crash if you throw standard desktop JS libs at them. Because we have a nice meaty set of high capability devices in a relatively large number of hands, its finally possible to tune the platform capability vs platform distribution tradeoffs in a way that makes business sense. I think we’re just now edging over a tipping point actually, but that discussion is for another time.
I would actually call their third point “monetization” instead of merchandising, but that’s a nit really. The way they were discussing it, advertising and promotional programs are lumped into merchandising. But this is the area that I think is most in need of help currently. Most folks working on the mobile web are rolling their own when it comes to merchandising. And I don’t really know of many services to point to who are monetizing effectively outside of the app store systems. So if anyone else out there knows of good examples please pass them along. Ben and Dion did make the point that for anyone who has tried to sell software on their own either independently or through other channels, the 30% cut that Apple takes for selling your app on the app store doesn’t seem overbearing. Good point.
Another fantastic point for the day came from Yehuda Katz. He came and presented at the last Mobile 2.0 developer day, but was just settling into the new role. This time around he said something along the lines of (and I’m paraphrasing, so forgive me if I misquote) “people used to have 0 or 1 main computing device they used, now we have 2 or 3″, and addressing that shift is that “mobile strategy” should be about. It should be about delivering the right experience at the right time across different devices. Echoes of the service avatars presentation Mike K did at Mobilize. I think Yehuda really hit the nail on the head in calling out that point as the base of the discussion.
I had already been poking around with JQuery Mobile, Sencha Touch, and SproutCore. Now I’m thinking it’s time to pull together some of the hackery into a project and see if I can make one of them work at scale. Seems like all the ducks are finally starting to line up.