Joel on AJAX Calendars

2006-02-10 00:30:00

Just got through reading a post by Joel Spolsky declaring that there are Too Many AJAX Calendars. Reading it didn't exactly give me a warm and fuzzy feeling given that my day-to-day job is working on, well, an AJAX calendar.

His frustration stems from the fact that he tried six or so different AJAX calendars -- most of them beta or 1.0 releases -- and none of them seem to do a lot of the stuff he expects a calendar to do.

This is what he calls the Marimba Phenomenon, after a dot-com-era company that launched a minimally functional product that was a huge disappointment due to high expectations from a humongous onslaught of PR hype:

When you get premature publicity, lots of people check out your thing, and it's not done yet, so now most of the people that tried your thing think it's lame, and now you have two problems: your thing is lame and everybody knows it.

This has proved to be a bit of a problem for Chandler in the past, and it's something we're trying to exercise caution with for Scooby as well.

Joel thinks that this bumper crop of AJAXey Web calendars has been caused by the swirl of ongoing rumor about a Google online calendar. His idea is that these folks are building online calendars in the hopes that Yahoo will ultimately buy them a la Oddpost. This is not an entirely unreasonable idea (or an unreasonable business strategy, as my co-worker Bobby points out), and I suspect that the guys at Kiko or Planzo would love to be snapped up by Yahoo for a few skillion dollars.

Whatever the reason, given the profusion of these beta-quality AJAX calendars, we need to make sure that the project Web site and documentation for the upcoming Scooby 0.1 release underline the things that set Scooby apart from these other offerings:

  • All the Scooby code is freely downloadable and available under the Apache License, Version 2.0.
  • Scooby is to be standards-compliant, and should eventually be able to serve as a generic CalDAV client.

It probably also wouldn't hurt to emphasize that this is a developer's pre-release, not something people should expect to use to get work done. At least I probably don't have to worry about Joel trying to use it. He seems to be done with AJAX calendars for awhile.


This is the blog for Matthew Eernisse. I currently work at Yammer as a developer, working mostly with JavaScript. All opinions expressed here are my own, not my employer's.


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