AJAX / RIA mailing list

A few months ago, in the aftermath of the etech BOF on AJAX/RIAs, I started an email list on AJAX / RIA. I have never publicized the list or even told anyone about it. But every couple of weeks someone joins the group! I’ve decided to publicize the list so that it has at least a chance of achieving critical mass. If anyone is looking for conversation about AJAX / Rich Internet Applications, the list to join is ajax_and_ria on yahoogroups.

AJAX != web 2.0

Attention all cars. AJAX is not Web 2.0. In fact, it is in many ways in opposition to web 2.0. AJAX applications create web-pages that are less machine-readable / linkable (try bookmarking a google map). This is a mistake that I have seen some otherwise smart people making, so it’s important to clear this matter up.
Clinton agrees with me

Before we get to Web 2.0., it is useful to consider what does not characterize Web 2.0. For instance, for all of the love that rich client-side AJAX applications such as Gmail have earned, that alone does not make them Web 2.0. Simply having a Flash or WML interface or a XHTML+CSS homepage is not enough to qualify. In fact, in some cases these sites actually lock in more control over the data and manage the presentation even further.

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Best Practices for AJAX development

It’s great to see developers starting to think seriously about what kind of best practices to use in javascript development. Developing with a loosy-goosy scripting language like JavaScript or ActionScript requires MORE code discipline, not less. Since the language doesn’t force you use best practices, you have to force yourself. Otherwise, someone will be stuck maintaining cruddy old code that nobody quite understands anymore. I’ve been there, and it’s no fun. Here are the highlights:

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skype plugins: more free / low-cost collaboration tools

Skype journal published a nice roundup of the best skype plugins. Pamela (an anwering machine / recording plugin) tops the list. Video4IM (a video conferencing utility) and Jyve (a call forwarding / presence engine) are also mentioned. But the biggest surprise is Jybe, a browser-sharing application. Given that you can open MS Office documents inside your browser, this could be an extremely powerful piece of collaboration software that gives companies like Sabeer Bhatia’s InstaColl a run for their money.
Looks like video conferencing and screensharing technologies are only getting better. Cool!

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Virtual machines and fire discipline

In a recent post, Cringly describes the Flash VM is a perfect trojan horse, a platform for getting the software that Adobe/Macromedia needs distributed out to the internet at large.
Let’s say Adobe/Macromedia had some little bit of code – a VoIP client, for example — they wanted to bring to market. Just make it part of the next version of Flash. Over the course of a few months and practically without effort, that little program would be installed and ready to go in hundreds of millions of computers. Then all Adobe would have to do is to announce it and the service could be up and running practically overnight.

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Grassroots Collaboration Tools

Robin Good has an excellent presentation about free / low-cost collaboration tools. He frames them as “Grassroots collaboration tools“, in opposition to “Enterprise Collaboration Tools” like Webex that have been around for years. He sees the primary value of these tools being price, features, and usability (i.e. usable by non-technical people). Anyone interested in the space should watch the presentation…it’s that good.
Below is a list of the product categories and products in the “GrassRoots Collaboration Tools” space. Most of the tools are from Robin’s presentation, with edits and additions by me. This list will change over time as new tools come to market.. feel free to suggest options that are missing from the list in the comments section below.

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The achiles heel of infosys

Amit Ranjan has an excellent piece on how the blue-chip body shops in India need to move up the value chain before their labor arbitrage play expires. He writes
Their main competitive advantage (price competiveness due to labour costs differential) is time-barred and come with a limited shelf life: price arbitrage will eventually force the imperfections in markets to converge towards a price equilibrium).

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