The Javascript Grid

Google App Engine launched this week and one controversial aspect was that it only works for Python. It wasn’t a big deal to me. Firstly, it’s a good way for Google to limit the initial market. Secondly, Google specialises in Python and not Ruby – quoth Yegge: “One of the fences in this big playground is your choice of programming language. You have to play inside the fence defined by C++, Java, Python, and JavaScript.” After all, Google has Guido but not Matz or DHH. (I wonder how many times someone has asked that guy if he’d consider a position at Google!) Thirdly, who cares? Do you really think it will stay Python-only for long? Heavens to Murgatroyd!!!

Dion’s take (read his post for the full detail):

Anyway, I have a dream and surprisingly it doesn’t involve Ruby and unsurprisingly it does involve the magic bullet that is server-side Javascript.

How cool would it be if Google bought Aptana or AppJet – or did their own work with Jaxer or Rhino – and made a robust, elastic, server-side Javascript platform? Then roll in Rhino and Rails, hopefully reworked from Rails considerably to take into account the synergies delivered by dual-side Javascript. Backed by BigTable of course!

That’s the tipping point right there!

Server-side Javascript: Hope and opportunity

Update: See also

Dion’s cartoon resonated with me:

Resonated because only last night I was thinking it’s about time I actually started playing with server-side Javascript, and wrote my first, extremely dumb, AppJet app. I will hopefully make it, like, actually do something at some stage.

I’ve discussed the potential of server-side Javascript before, and the more I think about, the more I like it. Javascript is a sophisticated language and, by now, a language very familiar to many professional web developers.

The real gap is in server-side frameworks and hosting. There’s no “killer app” Javascript server, a la what Rails did to Ruby. I haven’t even heard of most of the SSJS frameworks listed in Wikipedia. Furthermore, try finding a virtual host that supports Javascript! You would practically need one that support Java, so you can run Rhino or whatever, and few virtual hosts do that. At least Python and Ruby were running on many virtual hosts before Django and Rails showed up. For that reason, the model pursued by AppJet seems worthy. If they can come up with a solid virtualisation environment for Javascript, they may be on to a big winner. They could be the BEA or JBoss of 2015 (2010 seems a bit early for all that!). And if the rumour is true they’re using Scala, they’ll get doubleplus-coolness votes for language selection.