Wednesday, June 25th, 2008

Apple, SproutCore, and Coherent

I heard from a little birdy that Apple is going to be doing some interesting things with respect to JavaScript libraries.

Recently there has been a lot of buzz around SproutCore / Mobile Me, Objective-J / 280 Slides and remember the Coherent Cocoa Databinding framework?

I think that Apple took note of the recent buzz, and it was at that point (not before) that execs suddenly saw that they really had. They have taken control of Coherent where “it could become the Cocoa library for JavaScript and is made available under a similar license to Cocoa and Cocoa-Touch.”

I am also sure that there have been talks about the other frameworks too. If I was Apple, I would combine these worlds, get the developers together, and produce something really killer, using the great HTML5 support and features that WebKit is running with.


Jeff Watkins, the author of Coherent, has posted about the change:

I originally started developing Coherent back in 2005 because I wanted to use Cocoa for my Web applications, but Cocoa was only available for Mac applications. If there had been a Web version of Cocoa, I never would have begun developing Coherent.

I’ve long felt Apple would provide the best environment for Coherent, and since I joined the company last year, I’ve been thrilled that we’ve been able to use Coherent in a number of projects.

Today, I am delighted to announce that I have assigned ownership of the Coherent library to Apple. Naturally, I can’t speak for my employer regarding what future products might include this library, but I can say my hope is that this will ultimately make Coherent a better tool for Web developers.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.

Jeff Watkins
Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Exciting times.

Also, Ryan Carson has posted on why he thinks these technologies are a huge deal.

Posted by Dion Almaer at 11:38 am

2.8 rating from 29 votes


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I find it really strange that all these people are making a big fuzz about these new frameworks being available.

“Suddenly creating desktop like applications in your browser becomes a possibility!!”

What have Dojo, ExtJS and GWT been doing for the last few years??? And in my opinion all the three I mentioned do a much better job at it aswell!

Comment by TommyMaintz — June 25, 2008

@TommyMaintz .. I agree.. a lot of talk.. let’s see some walk (code).

Comment by ibolmo — June 25, 2008

It’s damn annoying that all these frameworks all use javascript anyway, and then pretend not to.
Javascript is like Cinderella, the cutest of them all but nobody is admitting it.

Comment by Mikael Bergkvist — June 25, 2008

@Mikael Bergkvist … Sorry but I disagree. Both Coherent and Sproutcore use JavaScript language. They “only” port Cocoa bindings (and other features) to JS…in fact they are built on PrototypeJS ;)

Comment by Muccy — June 26, 2008

Stupid f… sold his soul to the devil! Good luck :)

Comment by Tomppa — June 26, 2008

Muccy, just a slight clarification: Coherent works fine with Prototype as well as Dojo. I suspect with a little tweaking it would also work find with YUI and MooTools.

And as for Tomppa the charmer, if you think my employer is the devil, then yes, I have sold my soul. But thanks for the wish of good luck…

TommyMaintz, much as I admire Dojo and ExtJS, they are very akin to the Win32 APIs: you can build amazing products, but there’s a lot of work ahead. With Coherent, I’ve focused more on the data model side of application development (whereas ExtJS in particular focuses on the widget side) and left the widget development for individual applications.

GWT is just a nasty piece of work. Maybe if Google had decided to use JavaScript via Rhino on the server-side I might consider it, but Java is simply one of the most unpleasant languages I’ve ever had to use.

Comment by Jeff Watkins — June 26, 2008

Why is it that every time something Apple-related happens, it has to be touted as new, revolutionary, ground-breaking, [insert more marking hype-words here]?
I completely agree with TommyMaintz, this is ridiculous. What is worse is that Carson proclaim that “people are generally building web apps with CSS, HTML, a sprinkling of AJAX and their framework of choice.”
First of all, what exactly is wrong with that? These sites use Ajax to enhance usability. They have a purpose, then use other technologies to get there.
Now with what this guy wants, I imagine this dialogue:
“It has to be like a desktop app!”
“But…we don’t even know what the app’s gonna do.”
“So? It’s shiny cool!”
“You’re fired!”
Seriously though, I see no mention of Dojo, GWT, Ext, YUI, JQuery, MooTools, anything! This is probably going to incite another flamewar, but c’mon Apple guys, can’t you at least acknowledge that you’re entering a field that’s been completely covered for years?

Comment by Scriptor — June 26, 2008

Completely covered… bold statement. I wonder if something similar was said when object-oriented programming was just beginning to take off?

Part of the fun of software development is what’s around the corner. New approaches to old problems.

Yes, the current frameworks do an excellent job of covering the current problem domain. Indeed, the growing trend toward unobtrusive javascript and progressive enhancement are evidence that this area is maturing, especially for web work that is more web site than web application.

Sproutcore, JavascriptMVC, Coherant and the like are really tackling a different problem than the baseline javascript frameworks. The desktop design patterns they bring to the browser are refreshing, and desirable for web work that is more application than web site.

It’s an exciting time to be working in this field.

Comment by peters438 — June 26, 2008


I both agree and disagree with your evaluation. I think current frameworks (ranging from GWT/Script# to Dojo/jQuery/Prototype) can be used for a wide variety of sites, such as a little “Ajax” enhancement to a full blown “Desktop-like Application”.

That being said I don’t find anything revolutionary in Sproutcore, Coherant, etc… Developers have been writing full blown Desktop-like Applications for years without such technology (Google’s Applications come to mind, but their are hundreds more) and have been quite effective.

I think it’s also important for developers to actually learn JavaScript and cross-browser issues. It’s wonderful (no sarcasm here) to be able to use GWT and Dojo and jQuery, but if hired for X company (which uses Y framework) they are more interested in you being able to maintain and upgrade their product, not port it to your favorite framework.

Comment by matanlurey — June 26, 2008

could not get the demos running without errors on IE7/vista

Comment by khakman2 — June 26, 2008

Are you talking about the Coherent demos? The site has basically been taken down because the code now belongs to Apple. If you’re hitting cached versions of the demos, they won’t work because the JS files aren’t present.

Until Apple releases the code, there’s nothing to see.

Comment by Jeff Watkins — June 26, 2008

@Jeff: I don’t like “… the code now belongs to Apple.”

But then again I don’t like Google’s code (mangled code in the source) either.

Gotta love big business.

Comment by ibolmo — June 26, 2008

“@Mikael Bergkvist … Sorry but I disagree. Both Coherent and Sproutcore use JavaScript language. They “only” port Cocoa bindings (and other features) to JS…in fact they are built on PrototypeJS ;) ”

Hmm, how do you disagree exactly?
This is what I said – it’s still just javascript…

Comment by Mikael Bergkvist — June 27, 2008

@Mikael: I disagree when you said: “Javascript is like Cinderella, the cutest of them all but nobody is admitting it.”. IMHO that’s not true nobody is admitting… they’re highlighting that’s pure JavaScript improved with some good stuff (Cocoa’s great stuff =P) under it.

@Jeff: Hi =) Yes… I totally agree!!! I’m looking forward to Apple’s releases…

PS: I don’t think Apple is the devil. Devil would not use open standards LOL

Comment by Muccy — June 29, 2008

A non-devil would also release un-obufscated code. Hope they link us to an SVN/git for their apps. If they do, Google should learn a thing or two.

Comment by ibolmo — June 29, 2008

We will see =) I hope soon

Comment by Muccy — June 29, 2008

Apple was fairly diligent about getting the code off the net despite it’s Apache License. A version is on github:

Comment by trek — August 25, 2008

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