This is my personal blog. The views expressed on these pages are mine alone and not those of my employer.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Dojo Offline Beta Released: Toolkit for Offline Web Apps

Today we released the Dojo Offline Toolkit. Dojo Offline is a free, open source toolkit that makes it easy for web applications to work offline. It consists of two pieces: a JavaScript library bundled with your web page and a small (~300K) cross-platform, cross-browser download that helps to cache your web application's user-interface for use offline.

This was such a crazy application for me to work on. I've been crunching away on the offline problem for years, throwing different things against the wall to see what would stick: AMASS, Dojo Storage, early offline work using Dojo Storage and browser caching tricks, and now Dojo Offline. This project was a serious coding stretch for me; it involved using 6 different languages, 3 of which I don't even know (Perl, NSIS, Bash Shell Scripting) and one in which I'm frankly not very good at (C). Here's the languages it took for me to get this out the door:
It also involved some relatively serious interactions with the Win32 API, Cocoa, and cross-compilation environments. I've gotten lazy doing web programming -- I forgot how damn hard client-side development is, and how slow it can be to develop. It's definently reinforced my belief that moving more of this to the web is the correct thing, just for the ease of QA and distribution.

This project almost didn't happen multiple times -- there were many times in which I thought it would be impossible and got pretty close to giving up, but the thought of not delivering kept me going. What we have up is a beta -- there are bugs and glitches for some edge cases, but the functionality is there and the core use cases work well. We now just have to drive the beta forward and keep iterating to press the bugs out across more and more tested PCs. Very special thanks to SitePen (Dylan Schiemann and Carrie Sackett in particular) -- without their support the Dojo Offline Toolkit would never have happened.

I'm really going to need the help of the wider community to pitch this tent. Dojo Offline is really just a scrappy open source project, and like any low-to-the-ground open source project it's resource constrained. What we really need is one or two more really good C-programmers. With that the sky would be the limit.

Ok, now I'm going to go sleep for a very long time :)

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