Making web development suck less

Jan 5, 2009 14:02 · 407 words · 2 minute read Mozilla

We make shitty software… with bugs!

old Living Videotext slogan, as reported by Dave Winer

I love that quote. On the surface, it sounds disparaging about the software you have today, but it’s actually more of a statement of hopes for the future. The status quo, in fact every status quo, is less than ideal. It’s great to be proud of your products and where you are, but it’s even more important to keep in mind how much more there is to do.

Early in my career, I worked at the ANS Network Operations Center. ANS ran the original NSFNet and provided internet and dial-up connectivity for America Online, as well as a number of large companies and research labs. We had the internal slogan “we suck less”, and it was the same idea as the “we make shitty software” quote. At ANS, we did suck less than our competitors. But, every time a customer’s connection was down we knew we had work to do to make things even better.

I’ve been doing web-based software development for a long time, and the tools for creating web-based software have improved tremendously. Server side frameworks like Rails, TurboGears and Django have made writing typical server side code far easier. Client side toolkits like Dojo, jQuery and Prototype/Scriptaculous have made creating better client experiences even easier. And tools like Firebug have made it much easier to debug an application and tweak its appearance on the fly.

But, developing compelling web-based applications still sucks. Its still more work than it should be in the ideal case. I’m sure that the people working on all of those tools, and all of the competing tools, all have ideas on how to make things better and will all be pushing the state of the art forward and removing a bit of suckyness with each release.

I’m delighted to say that starting today I am working with Ben Galbraith and Dion Almaer at Mozilla Labs on web development tools. I’ve been a reader of Ben and Dion’s Ajaxian site for years and I know how much thought they’ve put in to making webdev better, so I’m really excited to be joining their group. And Mozilla looks like a fantastic organization to be a part of.

It’s still a very new group, but you can bet that every day I’m going to be thinking about how I can help make web development easier, faster and better.