Bob Balaban's Blog


    Bob Balaban


    What if....."JavaScript" is inevitable?

    Bob Balaban  June 19 2007 08:35:51 AM
    Greetings, Geeks!  

    I hope that all of you in the Northern Hemisphere are enjoying the onset of Summer, and that all of you in the Southern Hemisphere are enjoying the prospect of cooler times. I hope that all of you in between are....well, finding something to enjoy!

    So! *Everyone* who knows me knows that I am a BIG fan of LotusScript, and that I have a very long history with it. I have taken every opportunity at every conference I have spoken at in the last 10 years (and that's a LOT of conferences), and in most of the articles I have written to point out (sometimes with the help of a great Monty Python video clip from the "Holy Grail" film) that LotusScript is NOT DEAD (yet). That is STILL TRUE today.

    The back-end classes for LotusScript (and Java, and COM and CORBA) continue to be improved and extended. The LotusScript front-end classes work just fine in the Notes 8/Hannover client. I will have more to say on the topic of back- and front-end classes and on improvements to LotusScript itself in a future post, but for now there's no way this stuff is going to disappear anytime soon.

    Having said that, my major focus for 8.5 (NMFR - "next major feature release") is on Web application development (I'm not ignoring Notes appdev or anything else, but this is a strategic thing for 8.5 NMFR). Anyone doing web development on Domino knows that this area needs some work to be great again (dare I say, "kick-ass"?). LotusScript will continue to play an important role in Domino Web appdev, in the form of WQO/WQS agents, as before. However, LotusScript has one rather large drawback in this space: it does not run in browsers.

    It seems clear to me (please tell me if you disagree) that:
      a) We need to be putting code on browser clients to make the user experience and the data transfer good
      b) Nobody wants to use Java applets for this purpose anymore
      c) IBM is not going to hand control of its technology future in this space over to someone else's "custom player" (e.g., Flash, Dreamweaver, some Microsoft thing...)
      d) We're left with the inevitability of JavaScript, in some form.

    So, fellow Geeks, here are some questions on which I would like to get your feedback:

      1) Is "JavaScript" generic enough these days that we don't need to care much about what flavor of it is running in given browser?
      2) If we have to pick a version of "JavaScript" on which to standardize, what should it be? ECMAScript? Something else? What are the tradeoffs?
      3) Of course, JavaScript by itself is probably no longer good enough. It seems to me that people (developers) are expecting some kind of browser-resident framework to handle the low-level tasks involved with AJAX, rendering, XML processing, and so on. If IBM picked one to be our "default", but still let you deploy whatever other one you wanted, is that ok? (If you didn't use the one we provide, my assumption is you would likely have to do some extra coding)

    Is there more we should do to "embrace" JavaScript? Is server-side scripting in JS a requirement? If so, what are you likely to do with it?

    As always, dear Geeks, thank you for your dedication and feedback!