My theory is that the process of shopping for a framework is just too much work. Investigating an API and then deciding it won’t be useful feels like a waste of time. Diving into code and starting to hack feels much more productive, even if it’s not the best course of action. This is the phenomenon Paul Graham refers to as the “still life effect“.
One thing developers look for in a framework is a thriving community. Large numbers of people using a framework means 1) a lot of people have evaluated the framework and found it useful enough to start using, and 2) the framework is likely to improve quickly since so many people are working with it, giving feedback (and hopefully submitting patches and extensions).
To help others pick which platform to investigate, I’ve done a little research on the user communities for each of the platforms. The first thing I did was a) count number of threads and number of posts so far this month on the mailing list for each of the major frameworks. As a bonus, I also noted how many people have tagged the main page of each project in del.icio.us. Hopefully these numbers provide some kind of a metric of how much momentum a given framework has right now. This data is a nice compliment to the Ajaxian survey data.
|Dojo Toolkit||dojo-interest list||414||113||simple count||1526|
|zimbra||zimbra.com/forums||125||33||only counted AJAX-related messages||1856|
|Prototype||rails-spinoffs||104||71||8 mentions of prototype||2574|
|Scriptaculious||rails-spinoffs||104||71||5 mentions of scriptaculous||5184!|
|behaviour||rails-spinoffs||104||71||no mentions of behavior!||1019|
2) The “prototype coalition” of Scriptaculious, Prototype, and Behaviour doesn’t have as much traffic as I would have thought, given the reported popularity of the Prototype in the Ajaxian survey. Is rail-spinoffs the the only list for developers using Scripaculious / Prototype? Would love more info on this from other developers. If so, I’m curious why there’s so little conversation there. Is prototype just so easy to use it’s not worth discussing?
Anyway, this information is by necessity incomplete. If I didn’t cover your favorite framework, I’m sorry! Compiling this data took a bit of doing. If there’s a framework you’d like added to the table, send me the traffic data for Nov 1-20, 2005, and I will add it!
Readers looking for comprehensive writeups of the various apis should read these articles.