Before working on Zorn, I oversaw development for Dreamweaver and several related products. I’d been working on Dreamweaver for years (started as an engineer on 1.0), and in a lot of ways, I’d come to feel like Dreamweaver was my baby.
During that time, I had kept a healthy skepticism about Flash-based apps. Being a strong HTML advocate within the company, I kept pushing for the possibilities of HTML.
At a certain point, though, my point of view shifted, and I decided that I could do more by joining forces with the Flex team to help push that technology forward.
We all go to work for different reasons. For me, I like to feel that what I do every day makes a difference to as many people as possible. Writing software can be gratifying in that way. I’ve had the opportunity to work on Dreamweaver, Contribute, and other tools which hundreds of thousands of people use every single day.
The feature decisions matter. The late nights matter. It is fun to come into work when what you do matters.
Having said that, the larger picture of the Web world had changed a lot since 1.0.
When we first did Dreamweaver, the Web was still in its very early years. It’s hard to say what impact we had on the Web as a whole (some people would say that we had a negative impact on the Web!), but I like to think that we did our small part to help foster the growth of the early Web.
On balance, I think the Web has made the world a better place. Once you’ve bought your own airline tickets or shared photos of your kid with your family (mine is 9 months old!) you never want to go back.
In recent years, though, I’ve come to feel that the Web has stabilized. Yes, innovation keeps happening (Ajax in particular is interesting.. more on that in a later post), but fundamentally, it is no longer the catalyst for change in people’s lives.
Will Flex/Zorn change the world? I don’t know. But I do know that there is so much potential out there. HTML/JS/CSS has some incredibly frustrating limitations. I believe that the next wave of connected applications will be more functional, usable, and engaging, and that the combination will change the world in whole new ways (take a look at Breeze, for example…).
Our goal with Flex and Zorn is to change what is possible on the Web.
So anyway, I’ve thrown my lot in with the Flex folks. It’s fun and it’s nerve wracking. In the Dreamweaver world, we were always chasing technology. We would spend all of our time trying to understand what people were doing as deeply as possible. In the Flex world, we need to imagine what people will need to do, and invent it. Are we getting everything right? Probably not. But hopefully we are getting enough things right to make a difference.