‘Technology’ Articles:

TypeScript, how we went from skeptics to converts

September 26th, 2017 by jeremychone | Comments Off

This is the intro of the full blog post TypeScript, from skeptic to convert

We are a small but focused consulting firm that has been developing two to four advanced business cloud and web applications per year for almost a decade, and we have grown to be very mindful about what technologies make it into our recommended tech stack — we are not the kind of consulting company that adopts new technology just because they are hot.

From our experience, it always comes back to these three core principles, Simple scales betterPatterns over frameworksRuntime first.

At first glance, TypeScript seemed to be the archetype of what we usually avoid, and despite its noble mission statement to add [to JavaScript] without removing [or fixing], we had our original doubts and skepticism, which could be summarized as follows:

  • A Microsoft bait and switch strategy?
  • Yet another CoffeeScript?
  • Angular stuff?
  • Can static type be added the JavaScript way?
  • Cost v.s. Value?

 

In its beginning, we could not rule out any of those concerns out for sure, so we decided to give it some time. After a couple of years and many releases, we took a third look this summer, and that was the charm. We turned from being hopeful skeptics to full converts.

Read more on the full blog post TypeScript, from skeptic to convert

 

 

 

 

Silverlight: Good for Adobe, Bad for Microsoft

August 12th, 2009 by jeremychone | 18 Comments »

While many see Microsoft Silverlight as an Adobe Flash killer, I actually think Adobe should rejoice that Microsoft is competing with Adobe on its own turf (i.e., media plug-ins) rather than putting all its energy, as it once did, into Web standards and innovation (IE 5.0 was the most robust and compliant Web browser of its time).

If Microsoft were to take a similar approach to the one it embraced in 1995, when it actually took the lead in Web technologies and provided the best Open Web browser implementation, new media functionalities such as video and 2D/3D would become an intrinsic part of the Web, making media plug-ins irrelevant to its future. In other word, if Microsoft were to go full Open Web (with SVG, Canvas, Smil, HTML 5, Video, and CSS3) Adobe Flash would be history in couple of years. However, Microsoft decided to follow Adobe’s plug-in strategy by forking visually rich capabilities into the plug-in world and throwing itself into a completely new market.

Why? Why follow when you can lead?

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To Flash or to Open Web

June 25th, 2009 by jeremychone | 10 Comments »

Nowadays, building [rich] Web applications can be quite challenging, as the proliferation of Web technologies has become overwhelming and confusing. The real challenge is that many interesting new Web technologies are being promoted by various groups, and it can be quite difficult for a developer or architect to filter the practical and future-proof ones from the cool and volatile ones.

As a rule of thumb, open technologies tend to be more pervasive and longer lasting (especially for the Internet) than proprietary technologies, which tend to bring more advanced capabilities early on. Consequently, Web application developers need to be pragmatically-open, by choosing open technologies whenever possible, but also by not hesitating to use proprietary ones when required. It is not about being religious about openness or anything else, but rather about being diligent so that one is able to choose the right technology to maximize the chances of success of the target application. In other words, it should not be a personal and emotional decision, but rather a business and rational one.

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Myths about JavaFX, Android, and J2ME

June 8th, 2009 by jeremychone | 27 Comments »

At JavaOne, Larry Ellison has made some very encouraging statements about Oracle’s commitments to Java, JavaFX, and the mobile developer market. It is certainly good news that Oracle (i.e., Larry) sees the significance of the Java platform in its integrality. However, there are many misunderstandings about the relationship between Java, JavaFX, and Android that even confuse the new Java owner. Here are some clarifications.

1) JavaFX is NOT Java.

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Search Oriented Tagging

September 30th, 2008 by jeremychone | 5 Comments »

Tagging has been a relatively popular, human-driven method for organically categorizing information on the Web. Users are now accustomed to tagging the content that they are publishing or bookmarking.

However, by design, tagging requires users to have some sort of writing privilege, which greatly limits its reach potential. Practically speaking, it means that if a user wants to tag an item on a system (e.g, Youtube, Flickr, or delicious) he or she must have an account on that system and be logged in at the time of the operation.

While this is probably not an issue for major Internet services, it can be a chicken-and-egg issue for new, upcoming services that do not yet have a large enough community to build a meaningful tag cloud. How can a new service maximize its community tag cloud if it doesn’t yet have a community?

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Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome Harmony

September 23rd, 2008 by jeremychone | 7 Comments »

Google Chrome is only about three weeks old and is already an Internet phenomenon. To sum it up, Google Chrome is all about making web browsing safer, faster, and easier. While some might see a fierce competition between Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox, I see harmony.

Here is some background to better understand this point of view. There has been a somewhat valid belief stating that the un-typed and interpreted nature of the JavaScript language was a major limitation for building demanding client applications. Consequently, to overcome this challenge, the browser technology providers had the following two options:

  1. Re-invent the language by “upgrading” the JavaScript language to a more a traditional typed and object-oriented language, such as Java or C#, allowing the runtime to just focus on running the code.
  2. Re-invent the runtime by creating novels ways for the JavaScript virtual machine to parse and interpret the JavaScript code, making the language as robust and reliable as more traditional languages.

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Flying Pixels

August 13th, 2008 by jeremychone | 9 Comments »

With the emergence of new technologies such as AJAX, Flash, and Silverlight, and popular applications such as Google Map and iPhone, the temptation for developers to fully and deeply animate their upcoming applications has become almost irresistible.

While slick animations and transitions are certainly useful for emotionally driven applications, such as car configurators, and some applications or components such as Google Map and charting, they should not be used as a substitute for a good interactive design. Application developers need to realize that these animations and transitions come at an extra design and development cost (no matter what tool they are using). 

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Web Developer Spectrum

March 15th, 2008 by jeremychone | 2 Comments »

Web Developer Spectrum SmallIn the last few years, the technology industry has been particularly focused on Web developers, and the last couple of weeks have been a relatively good example of such attention. First, Adobe released its Adobe AIR and their Flex 3 products; Microsoft did a massive SilverLight push at its now famous MIX event (see Read/Write post); Google announced Google Gears for mobile devices and, finally, Steve Jobs splashed the market with his “Flash not good enough for iPhone” comment (which, in my opinion, is more of a strategic move than a technical reality). Meanwhile, “non-corporate-backed” Web frameworks, such as Spring, Ruby/Rail, and many AJAX frameworks, also continue to attract more and more Web developers. Consequently, Web developers have now, more than ever, a wide variety of technologies at their disposal.

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Seven 2008 predictions

February 2nd, 2008 by jeremychone | 7 Comments »

Despite some worldwide economic difficulties, 2008 might be a very dynamic year for the technology industry. I see two main reasons. First, the economic conditions might favor some interesting acquisitions, in the consumer as well as in the enterprise spaces. Second, I think the enterprise technology industry is going to work actively to leverage the best of Web 2.0 for their business. In other “buzzy” words, 2008 is the start of Enterprise Web 2.0.

1) Facebook to make big push to Mobile

facebook to mobileThis is more of an opinion than a prediction, but I think that Facebook should make a big push in the mobile space. Apple reinvigorated this space from a consumer point of view; however, mobile applications are still hard to develop, integrate, or promote. Facebook has the reach, the technology, and the platform experience to create an online mobile platform allowing application providers to build, integrate (i.e., mashup), and deploy (i.e. provisioning) mobile applications.

The challenge to build a true online mobile platform would be to take some distance from the “PC world” and focus the mobile specific issues, constraints, and value chains.

Google might be another challenger in this space; however, their strategy seems to be very device-centric (with Android), which will take longer to unfold.

2) Ning to be acquired by Yahoo! (or Microsoft)

iPhoneOn the consumer portal front, I predict that Ning will get acquired by Yahoo! (or Microsoft). TechCrunch predicted that it would be Google, but I think that Google has its hands too full with Open Social to buy yet another “framework.”

Yahoo! might want to make an aggressive move in the social network space in a novel way. A Ning acquisition might allow them to differentiate themselves, at least from a developer standpoint. In a way, Yahoo! could become the social network platform for the rest of us.

Note: Google might very well buy Bebo.com to deepen its US/EU social network presence.

3) Apple to revolutionize the media distribution market (iTunes 2.0)

Apple Media Well, this one is not hard to predict, but I think that Apple’s move to online video will become big. The WGA strike definitely works to Apple’s advantage. While Apple’s video rental numbers might look relatively low by the end of 2008, when compared to Blockbuster, I think Apple is going to be in a position to dominate this market (or at least, create its own).

The big question is, how will Apple be able to get into the living room? Apple TV?

4) Apple to acquire Adobe

Apple AdobeThis is an easy and now popular prediction. Despite the fact that Apple has a lot on its 2008 plate, I think, as many others do, that it would be a good strategic move for Apple to “merge with” (i.e. buy) Adobe. Apple is now, more than ever, the king of user experience from a consumer point of view. It would make perfect sense for Apple to also become the tools leader for creating these user experiences.

The irony of such an acquisition would be that, with the newly-acquired tools and runtime (Adobe Flex/AIR), Apple developers would be able to build and deploy applications for Microsoft Windows (as Microsoft developers used to do with Microsoft tools for Apple computers).

5) Microsoft to open SilverLight and/or XAML

SilverLight XAML2007 was the SilverLight year, in which Microsoft first attempted to take over the Flash market. SilverLight is mostly based on an XML language called XAML which is also used to build desktop applications with the WPF runtime. However, while some XAML clones already exist (e.g., Wayne’s post and eFace) none of these technologies are officially open.

I predict that Microsoft will either standardize the XAML language or even open-source the SilverLight code. It won’t do any harm to Microsoft, and will definitely counter some common attacks against these technologies.

Note: In the XAML Wikipedia definition, you might read the following:

“As XAML is simply based on XML, developers and designers are able to share and edit content freely amongst themselves without requiring compilation.”

Well, given my experience on the subject, I am not sure that XML in itself improves the designer-developer workflow. Better and more integrated tools will do so. The main challenge is that the design semantics are drastically different from the programmatic ones. In other word, a “Designer Component” does not necessarily map to a “Programmer Component.”

6) Oracle to buy RedHat or SalesForce.com

Oracle Redhat SalesForce I was going to say BEA, but this would be cheating now. I think the next one could be either SalesForce.com or RedHat. Oracle has been pretty aggressive in its Linux strategy in the last couple of years. A RedHat acquisition would be definitely in-line with Oracle’s disturb-before-striking acquisition strategy. RedHat new CEO would probably facilitate such acquisition.

I also think that online platforms for enterprise software/service companies are going to become strategic in 2008. SalesForce.com, with its force.com platform, is being aggressive about this, and can become the Facebook for enterprise applications. I am not sure that Oracle is ready to bet big on SaaS or PaaS (Platform as a Service) yet. But P/SaaS is definitely going to continue to grow, and might even become more relevant in economic downturn.

Anyway, both of these acquisitions are probably just a matter of time, and 2008 will tell us more.

7) Enterprise Web 2.0

Enterprise Web 2.0As mentioned in the introduction to this post, I think that 2008 will be a real start for Enterprise Web 2.0, the buzz-word for leveraging the best of the Web 2.0 technologies and paradigms to make enterprise internet applications more usable (i.e. RIA/AJAX), simpler, and collaborative (i.e. social). In this context, SaaS and PaaS (i.e., Platform as a Service) are going to be critical. (see Dion Hinchcliffe’s 12 predictions for Enterprise Web 2.0 in 2008)

To this end, I am now consulting with enteprise software and service companies to help them leverage Web 2.0 technologies and paradigms for their products and services. See www.jeremychone.com for more information.

 

So, here you have my seven predictions for 2008, hoping the “recession” won’t be too hard on the industry.

And a belated happy new year to you all!

2007 Flashbacks

January 8th, 2008 by jeremychone | Comments Off

I have not even started blogging 2008 and I am already late for my look back at `07. As a “somewhat” regular blogger, it’s my duty to “jump in the pool” by sharing my thoughts on the year in technology , Model 2007. With my last experience in Adobe, I am now equally interested in the consumer and enterprise technology markets. So, here is my insider’s take on the year just passed.

Facebook: A New King is Born

Facebook was undeniably one of the major internet phenomena of 2007. While its online Internet platform was not a new concept in 2007 (e.g., Oracle Mobile Studio), it is definitely fair to say that Facebook matured the concept and pushed it to the masses. I have been impressed by Facebook’s execution on the technical, business, and developer/end-user experience fronts. Facebook has successfully created a new market for itself, and is ruling it.

I personally think that Facebook has the potential to endure like Microsoft, Google, Apple, and Oracle. I also think that Microsoft prefers it that way, and it is one of the main reasons why they boosted Facebook’s valuation to $15B (TechCrunch: “Facebook Takes the Microsoft Money And Runs”).

iPhone: Great marketing starts when entertainment supercedes education

iPhoneAnother big phenomenon of 2007 was the iPhone. I am almost more fascinated by the buzz around it than by the product itself. I do not think that everything was planned, but the combination of Steve Jobs’ excellent keynotes, a great product, the desire of users for slick designs, and some entertaining PR glitches, turned this new device into a blockbuster phenomenon. iPhone even had gross weekend sales reports, as do Hollywood movies. Needless to say, with Steve Jobs, Apple has everything it needs to succeed in this new marketing age.

From a practical standpoint, Apple reinvigorated the mobile market, and this benefits everybody. So, as a non-iPhone user, I thank Apple for entering this market and pushing the standard up.

Oracle: Self-Predicted Prophecy

Oracle Larry demanded it, Oracle did it. What might have seemed unthinkable a decade ago has now happened. Oracle and SAP have entered a channel expansion spree which consisted of buying most of the major enterprise companies, such as Siebel, PeopleSoft, Business Object, and Hyperion. Larry predicted it in early 2000, and made it happen in less than a decade.

As Larry used to say, “I prefer to pay $1B and be right, than $100 Million and be wrong”. Well, Oracle did apply his philosophy pretty well.

I actually think this is a very good strategy for companies the size of Oracle or SAP. The consolidation in this market was probably inevitable, given the fact that what big enterprise customers are really looking for when signing an software license/support contract is the insurance on the product as much as the product itself.

This does not change the fact that enterprise innovation can still happen outside of these big companies, it just changes the opportunities (i.e. exit strategies) associated with these innovations.

Beyond AJAX: Return of the Client

SilverLight AIRIf AJAX and Web 2.0 were big news in 2006, technologies to go beyond Web browsers could be seen as an early theme marking 2007. As mentioned in the “Return of the Client” post, the main Internet technology providers are aggressively putting strategic technologies on the market to try to seize this new opportunity.

Although all of these technologies are somewhat based on standards such as XML, Javascript, HTML, and CSS, they are diverging quite a bit. Standardization might happen at some point (e.g., W3C Web Application Formats Working Group), but this does not seem to be a priority for anybody at this point.

The two noticeable new efforts are Adobe AIR/Flex and Microsoft SilverLight. Early applications seem promising. However, CAUTION, while we might get excited about these new possibilities, making a pixel fly does not necessarily give it a purpose.

Media industry: Mutation Started

ABC OnlineSomething a little bit more subtle is the awakening of the media industry to “legitimate” Internet business opportunities. I think that before 2007, the media industry saw the Internet mostly as a threat to their business, and like Bill Gates in the early 90’s, did not really see how to make money out of it. However, after witnessing some almost-no-budget shows such as Ask a Ninja and LonelyGirl15 reaching spectacular audiences, the media industry finally recognized the power and opportunities of the web. I think the WGA Strike is definitely a symptom of this awakening.

The industry has entered a first phase which is to monetize traditional productions (i.e., TV shows and movies) with this new media distribution channel. This is mostly a big-fish game, where the latest entry was Apple.

I think the next phase will be for the industry to create a new market for these next generation productions. It will be interesting to watch the incumbents play this new game; YouTube or Apple might be able to become the backbone of a new market.

 

We can now definitely close 2007. Next post will be the 2008 predictions.

 

Update 2008-01-10: TechCrunch reports an interesting "side" effect of the WGA Strike.