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SproutCore founder leaving Apple to pursue new HTML5 apps

post #1 of 34
Thread Starter 
Charles Jolley, the developer behind SproutCore, has left Apple to start Strobe Inc., a new business targeting touch-driven web applications. Both Apple and Strobe will continue to advance SproutCore as a core asset.

SproutCore is an open source, platform-independent, Cocoa-inspired JavaScript framework for creating web applications that look and feel like Desktop applications.

Apple discovered Jolley's SproutCore startup and hired him to create the MobileMe suite of web apps, beginning with a new Gallery web app for .Mac in the fall of 2007. In 2008, Apple relaunched .Mac as MobileMe, and introduced a full suite of web apps built using SproutCore.

The following year, Apple released iWork.com, which also uses SproutCore. This year, the company began introducing refreshed "V2" versions of the MobileMe components apps, starting with the iPad-inspired new look of Mail, and continuing with the latest announcement of a new MobileMe Calendar app, now in beta.

The MobileMe Calendar app (below) will be Jolley's final project at Apple. While Apple's MobileMe team continues to enhance its online offerings, Jolley's new Strobe startup will focus on the emerging market for web apps.

"Strobe Inc. is about building marrying the web and touch, where you get the best of both worlds: easy access to your data from any device (like the web), with a rich immersive interface (like native touch)," Jolley wrote in an email interview with AppleInsider.



"SproutCore is very good at supporting just these types of apps; it will be at the center of everything we do. Strobe will be investing quite heavily in it," Jolley said.

The SproutCore development community

Asked about the kind of support SproutCore is seeing as an open software project, Jolly wrote, "the SproutCore open source community is very healthy. We have about 1,500 people on our mailing list and a very active IRC channel. We also have 33 regular contributors to SproutCore, 75% not from Apple.

"I've always been more interested in influence over numbers with SproutCore. We tend to have key teams working on high profile projects at well known companies vs having a lot of tinkerers. Mozilla, for example, uses parts of it for their Bespin project. Gomez based parts of their products on it. There are a few other well known enterprise companies that are literally rewriting their entire product based on it. Total bet-the-company type of moves.

"All of the customers interested in Strobe's SproutCore-based solution are household names in publishing. We are going to have even more big name support going forward," Jolley said.
post #2 of 34
Quote:
"All of the customers interested in Strobe's SproutCore-based solution are household names in publishing. We are going to have even more big name support going forward," Jolley said.

So sounds like he's making software to make it easier for companies to make touch-centric web apps? Probably so they can develop one set of code for all platforms (Android, iOS, etc). I think this is the way many companies will go, instead of or in addition to native apps.
post #3 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nooge View Post

So sounds like he's making software to make it easier for companies to make touch-centric web apps? Probably so they can develop one set of code for all platforms (Android, iOS, etc). I think this is the way many companies will go, instead of or in addition to native apps.

Right. They would prefer Flash (because they already have lots of stuff coded with flash), but they will have to use something like SproutCode.
post #4 of 34
Sounds like he contributed what he could to Apple and is leaving them better off. His department isn't a negative at all for Apple, on the contrary he'll propell sproutcore and HTML5 to new heights. It's a win-win.
post #5 of 34
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Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Mozilla, for example, uses parts of it for their Bespin project

Just a bit of fact checking, if that's OK. From bespin-core on Google Groups dated May 24, 2010:

Quote:
We have downsized Bespin, trading SproutCore for jQuery.
post #6 of 34
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Originally Posted by delinka View Post

Just a bit of fact checking, if that's OK. From bespin-core on Google Groups dated May 24, 2010:

Nice thing about jquery is that google serves it for you. Although that is a double edged sword.

Life is too short to drink bad coffee.

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Life is too short to drink bad coffee.

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post #7 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by MacTel View Post

Sounds like he contributed what he could to Apple and is leaving them better off. His department isn't a negative at all for Apple, on the contrary he'll propell sproutcore and HTML5 to new heights. It's a win-win.

Agree.
post #8 of 34
Ok.

..
post #9 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by MacTel View Post

Sounds like he contributed what he could to Apple and is leaving them better off. His department isn't a negative at all for Apple...

His.. DEPARTMENT?? Seriously?!
post #10 of 34
I'm really impressed with MobileMe. You can get the same stuff from Google and others, but I feel it's a lot more straightforward with MobileMe. Except my email which I don't want to pay to keep.

It's got cool little perks like the MobileMe Gallery iPhone app which is pretty awesome and automatically adds a cool scroll effect made from your photos at the top of the app. I digs it. This guy did well.
post #11 of 34
So Apple revolutionized computers, its revolutionized iPods and iPhones (shaking up music and cell phone industries), Steve Jobs revolutionized animated movies w/ Pixar, next up the list is revolutionizing the web?

I guess judgment will have to wait a few years on the iPad It's too early to tell whether it's just early adopters or it's hit mainstream and gone ballistic on its competitors (of which there aren't any right now).
post #12 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nooge View Post

So sounds like he's making software to make it easier for companies to make touch-centric web apps? Probably so they can develop one set of code for all platforms (Android, iOS, etc). I think this is the way many companies will go, instead of or in addition to native apps.

I've been thinking the same thing. The YouTube web app could very much be a sign of things to come.

With client-side storage, caching, and extensions for some of the extra phone functions (i.e. accelerometer, GPS, camera) there are a lot of apps that are currently native that could be (and should be) web apps.

Apple threw down the gauntlet with iAds and iOS4, essentially signalling that Google will be cut out of advertising from native applications. So now Google's future in mobile advertising relies on either swamping the world with Android devices and\\or getting people off native apps on on to web apps where they control the advertising.

One wonders if Apple will embrace the change (i.e. by having web apps in iTunes) or fight it.

I actually wouldn't be surprised to see a Google web app store appear at some point. i.e. you write an application using some kind of Google HTML5 mobile framework which includes Google Ads, and then Google host the app for you. They could even use your standard Google login for paid apps.

Interesting times ahead!
post #13 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by MacTel View Post

Sounds like he contributed what he could to Apple and is leaving them better off. His department isn't a negative at all for Apple, on the contrary he'll propell sproutcore and HTML5 to new heights. It's a win-win.

Agree. His departure probably fits in to a long-term Apple strategy to seed the 'Web with open, platform-independent technologies to nullify all the 'Web's proprietary content in the future.

Watch out, Adobe et al...
post #14 of 34
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Originally Posted by Firefly7475 View Post

One wonders if Apple will embrace the change (i.e. by having web apps in iTunes) or fight it.

Apple already has a website that lists web apps, and there's really no point in having people access them through iTunes, nor, I think, does Apple wish to get involved in reviewing web apps.

However, as much as Google would like everyone to use web apps, particularly web apps they control, I think native apps will continue to dominate for at least the near-term future, for two simple reasons. First, people simply prefer native apps and native apps will always be able to offer superior functionality and user experience than web apps. Secondly, people are becoming increasingly suspicious of Google, and will become increasingly unwilling to allow Google to know everything about them and control their data.

As a result, Google will likely become more aggressive about trying to force people to use their services by attempting to control more and more information directly -- such as is the case with the planned ITA acquisition -- rather than simply being a portal to information.
post #15 of 34
Just look at the Google Voice, Gmail, and Youtube web apps, they are really nice. Problem is, these are all free apps. Small ISVs who want to make money will stick to native apps for the time being. Monetizing web apps is possible, but requires a lot more hassle and infrastructure.
post #16 of 34
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Originally Posted by anonymouse View Post

Apple already has a website that lists web apps, and there's really no point in having people access them through iTunes, nor, I think, does Apple wish to get involved in reviewing web apps.

However, as much as Google would like everyone to use web apps, particularly web apps they control, I think native apps will continue to dominate for at least the near-term future, for two simple reasons. First, people simply prefer native apps and native apps will always be able to offer superior functionality and user experience than web apps. Secondly, people are becoming increasingly suspicious of Google, and will become increasingly unwilling to allow Google to know everything about them and control their data.

I understand where you're coming from and somewhat agree however http://m.youtube.com means the statements in bold are questionable.
post #17 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nooge View Post

So sounds like he's making software to make it easier for companies to make touch-centric web apps? Probably so they can develop one set of code for all platforms (Android, iOS, etc). I think this is the way many companies will go, instead of or in addition to native apps.

Sorry, but SproutCore apps will ever replace native apps. Your dream of a panacea across all platforms is naive, at best.
post #18 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by Firefly7475 View Post

I understand where you're coming from and somewhat agree however http://m.youtube.com means the statements in bold are questionable.

I don't really see how the existence of a mobile youtube site means that peoples preference for native apps is questionable or that Native apps don't in general provide better user experiences.

What it means is that Google wants the ad revenue they can maybe get from a mobile website, but don't from Apple's app. So, it says something about Google, and it may say something about the relationship between Google and Apple, but it doesn't say anything about people's preferences.

Even if we assume for the sake of argument that the web app is a better user experience (which I don't actually agree with), that only says something about this particular example, not the situation in general.

Some large leaps of logic there, but you don't quite make it to the other side.
post #19 of 34
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Originally Posted by mdriftmeyer View Post

Sorry, but SproutCore apps will ever replace native apps. Your dream of a panacea across all platforms is naive, at best.

Naive apps will slowly disappear. Just think how many people have given up on native email clients and use web based email instead? Web apps are getting ever more complex and with technologies like html5, WebGL, native client, etc we will see even more powerful and fully featured web apps in the future. Web based office suites are rapidly getting better and could soon replace native apps for the average business user. We already have games like Tiger Woods (ie proper 3D games) running in browsers and we can expect to see more. Power users will continue to need native apps for quite sometime, but for many other people web apps will soon be able to satisfy all their needs.

And when this happens, it will be the end of Apples's computer business. If you are spending all your time in a browser the OS becomes less important; the advantage of an Apple computer with OS-X over some generic computer disappears.
post #20 of 34
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Originally Posted by Orlando View Post

Naive apps will slowly disappear. Just think how many people have given up on native email clients and use web based email instead? Web apps are getting ever more complex and with technologies like html5, WebGL, native client, etc we will see even more powerful and fully featured web apps in the future. ...

Just think how many people haven't given up native email clients and don't use web based email. Just think of how developers and users have embraced native iPhone apps in a way that web based apps can't compare to. Just think how you haven't really made a persuasive argument.
post #21 of 34
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Originally Posted by mstone View Post

Nice thing about jquery is that google serves it for you. Although that is a double edged sword.

Nice thing about jQuery is it seems to have the most support. Microsoft include it in Visual Studio and have basically said, we're going to do all our asp.net ajax stuff with it, Google and Microsoft both host it. There's thousands of code samples using it. When does anyone really hear about Sprout Core except in relation to Apple. That's not to say it's bad, but when your picking a technology for your company to use, pick the one with the most available developers, not one that's going to leave you with recruitment issues or a lot of training costs.
post #22 of 34
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Originally Posted by JasonX View Post

Just look at the Google Voice, Gmail, and Youtube web apps, they are really nice. Problem is, these are all free apps. Small ISVs who want to make money will stick to native apps for the time being. Monetizing web apps is possible, but requires a lot more hassle and infrastructure.

I agree Monetizing a web app is harder, but only because your not in iTunes and that's where you go for Apps. If there was a decent way to reach the public, then to me starting to sell web app's is a lot more appealing and easier for the following reasons:

1. Web App's open standards stuff. If you get stuck there millions of people to help you out on sites.
2. You don't need to pay Apple a yearly fee. What if nobody downloads your app, you don't want to have spent that money.
3. Infrastructure is easy. Hosting is cheap and easy to grow with your apps popularity.
4. Collecting money is easy. Start with something simple like Pay Pal. If you become popular you can go with a better priced service. Everything for having a store to sell you app is also open source and requires no programing.
5. You can do what you want. It's your app on your site. Nobody can say "Sorry your apps declined" or "We've changes the rules and your apps been removed"

So to me, if you could actually get your web app to the public then it would be the way to go. You control everything and none of it's hard. If it fails you haven't lost a lot. If it succeeds you can scale up and increase your profit margin which your also not sharing.
post #23 of 34
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Originally Posted by timgriff84 View Post

I agree Monetizing a web app is harder, but only because your not in iTunes and that's where you go for Apps. If there was a decent way to reach the public, then to me starting to sell web app's is a lot more appealing and easier for the following reasons:

...

So to me, if you could actually get your web app to the public then it would be the way to go. You control everything and none of it's hard. If it fails you haven't lost a lot. If it succeeds you can scale up and increase your profit margin which your also not sharing.

I think it depends on what your app does whether it makes sense. For example, for a To Do list app, it may simply make more sense to implement this as a native app so that lack of network access doesn't impair functionality. For a painting app, like Brushes, likewise, it makes little sense to implement this as a web app, assuming it would be possible, because, again, it's not something that needs to use the network at all. Games also are probably generally better implemented as native apps.

Web apps are not without purpose, but they aren't always the optimal way to implement something. Realistically, to create a really great web app for iPhone, unless it's fairly generic (like the youtube app) and you want it to run in a single form cross platform, probably takes at least as much work by the developer as creating a native app, and there are likely to always be advantages to going native, both for developers and users.

And, the $99/year it costs to be an iPhone developer isn't a real obstacle to developing native apps, and it's really a trivial amount of money in the context of what it's for.
post #24 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by timgriff84 View Post

Nice thing about jQuery is it seems to have the most support. Microsoft include it in Visual Studio and have basically said, we're going to do all our asp.net ajax stuff with it, Google and Microsoft both host it. There's thousands of code samples using it. When does anyone really hear about Sprout Core except in relation to Apple. That's not to say it's bad, but when your picking a technology for your company to use, pick the one with the most available developers, not one that's going to leave you with recruitment issues or a lot of training costs.

A lot of companies seem to think that way, but I think it's a mistake. Given a choice of tools, choose the best available, not the one that has the most developers. The time it takes someone to learn a tool like this isn't significant compared to trying to make tools do things they can't. Easy recruitment also doesn't mean that you will find good people, and usually the most popular tool will also have the most hacks with it on their resume.

That isn't a dig at jQuery in comparison to SproutCore, just a more general observation regarding tool selection and hiring practices. A lot of companies cut themselves off from talent by insisting (or more often by their HR departments insisting) they only consider people whose resumes line up exactly with their job description checkboxes. Smart companies hire smart people who will learn whatever they need to.

EDIT: Probably also worth noting the following from the SproutCore Wiki, in relation specifically to the jQuery comparisons:

Quote:
* SproutCore is not for enhancing web pages. SproutCore is about building full apps. By definition these can't degrade into simple HTML markup. SproutCore is not intended for spicing up document-oriented web pages.
* SproutCore is not a jQuery/Prototype/Dojo/etc.-killer. Proceeding from the above, lower-level DOM libraries in common use do a great job at making it easy to manipulate HTML. SproutCore should work well along-side these libraries; not compete with them.
post #25 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by Orlando View Post

Naive apps will slowly disappear. Just think how many people have given up on native email clients and use web based email instead? Web apps are getting ever more complex and with technologies like html5, WebGL, native client, etc we will see even more powerful and fully featured web apps in the future. Web based office suites are rapidly getting better and could soon replace native apps for the average business user. We already have games like Tiger Woods (ie proper 3D games) running in browsers and we can expect to see more. Power users will continue to need native apps for quite sometime, but for many other people web apps will soon be able to satisfy all their needs.

And when this happens, it will be the end of Apples's computer business. If you are spending all your time in a browser the OS becomes less important; the advantage of an Apple computer with OS-X over some generic computer disappears.

Maybe your friends use GMail. All my friends use native email app clients, whether its Thunderbird, Mail, KMail, Evolution and more, and they use Exchange, Yahoo, GMail plugins to get that information.

Of course, if you own your own domain one uses their own brand name to get all their email and yes it's a nice feature. It's very inexpensive and after 12 years I've only had a few down days, mainly for upgrading systems. IMAP has always been a pleasure to run.

Please, spare me the Native OpenGL in WebGL [OpenGL ES 2.0] speech. I'm studying it. It's a nice feature to finally leverage a subset of OpenGL, within the web browser, but the real power comes from the Desktop Environment compositing and more using OpenGL and being hardware accelerated via the GPU.

It's performance will vary drastically with the platform, just like OpenGL and in this case, not the native executable of the game on the platform, but the intermediate environment of the web browser that runs the executable on the specific platform. It's an extra level of abstraction.

Web based spreadsheets, word processors, database creation tools, development tools, professional engineering applications [if one can actually claim any web based apps to be called professional engineering apps], etc., will never be eliminating the native application. They are nice tricks, but in the end when it comes to heavy use the native app will always win out.

HTML5 isn't going to change that. It's never been intended to do so. It's intended to eliminate useless system heavy plugins like Flash.
post #26 of 34
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Originally Posted by Firefly7475 View Post

I actually wouldn't be surprised to see a Google web app store appear at some point. i.e. you write an application using some kind of Google HTML5 mobile framework which includes Google Ads, and then Google host the app for you. They could even use your standard Google login for paid apps.

Interesting times ahead!

Actually, Google already has plans for a web app store. They call it the Chrome Web Store. (https://chrome.google.com/webstore) They also already have the Google App Engine (http://code.google.com/appengine/) for hosting web applications.

Google has some really great tools for web developers.
post #27 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by anonymouse View Post

Just think how many people haven't given up native email clients and don't use web based email. Just think of how developers and users have embraced native iPhone apps in a way that web based apps can't compare to. Just think how you haven't really made a persuasive argument.

Hotmail had 359.9 million users as of March 2010, according to online tracking firm comScore. Yahoo! Mail was the next largest email provider with 283.6 million users followed by Google's Gmail with 173 million users (link). Now some of these users will access their email through native email clients, but a huge number just use the web interfaces.

You sound like one of those people who complained when iPad was first announced saying it will never sell because it isn't running the full desktop version of OS-X. You forget that not everyone is a power user. Not everyone needs all the bells and whistles a native application brings. For many people, web apps offer all the functionality they need and as web apps improve they will increasing fill all the requirements of an increasing large number of people.
post #28 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by Orlando View Post

Hotmail had 359.9 million users as of March 2010, according to online tracking firm comScore. Yahoo! Mail was the next largest email provider with 283.6 million users followed by Google's Gmail with 173 million users (link). Now some of these users will access their email through native email clients, but a huge number just use the web interfaces.

Well, first of all, a lot of those webmail "users" are fake accounts, throw-away accounts, accounts that people only use them for stuff like posting on craigslist, abandoned, etc. So, counting user accounts on big webmail sites doesn't tell you anything about the number of people only, or even primarily, using webmail. Google probably has the highest percentage of "real" accounts, but I wouldn't even want to venture a guess as to what that number is.

And you're also mistaken regarding my initial appraisal of the iPad following the announcement, something you can check my post history for if you like, although I can't understand the logic that could possibly have lead you to that conclusion based on my comments regarding web apps

But, lots of people just don't like web apps, and they really aren't the perfect solution for everything.
post #29 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by anonymouse View Post

And you're also mistaken regarding my initial appraisal of the iPad following the announcement, something you can check my post history for if you like, although I can't understand the logic that could possibly have lead you to that conclusion based on my comments regarding web apps

But, lots of people just don't like web apps, and they really aren't the perfect solution for everything.

I wasn't saying you were one of the iPad haters, but you are currently using the same argument they used against the iPad. Web apps - just like iPads - are not for power users and yes there are people who just don't like them. However, just because they aren't the perfect solution for everything it doesn't follow they aren't the perfect solution for anything. There are plenty of things they are suitable for. Not everyone is a power user.
post #30 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by Orlando View Post

I wasn't saying you were one of the iPad haters, but you are currently using the same argument they used against the iPad. Web apps - just like iPads - are not for power users and yes there are people who just don't like them. However, just because they aren't the perfect solution for everything it doesn't follow they aren't the perfect solution for anything. There are plenty of things they are suitable for. Not everyone is a power user.

I don't think it has anything to do with being a power user or not. I would probably be considered a power user, and I have an iPad and think it's the greatest thing since sliced bread. And plenty of so-called power users love gmail: I hate webmail generally and wouldn't hand over any of my data to Google willingly.

I think web apps are generally fine when the data doesn't belong to you and the app requires the network to function anyway, and it doesn't require particularly sophisticated interaction. (I just posted similar comments on the latest SC article posted this evening.) But, for everything else, you're much better off with a local native app. And I think a lot of people feel the same way, many of them perhaps for reasons they don't even recognize.
post #31 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by anonymouse View Post

I don't really see how the existence of a mobile youtube site means that peoples preference for native apps is questionable or that Native apps don't in general provide better user experiences.

What it means is that Google wants the ad revenue they can maybe get from a mobile website, but don't from Apple's app. So, it says something about Google, and it may say something about the relationship between Google and Apple, but it doesn't say anything about people's preferences.

Even if we assume for the sake of argument that the web app is a better user experience (which I don't actually agree with), that only says something about this particular example, not the situation in general.

Some large leaps of logic there, but you don't quite make it to the other side.

You're right, I'm wrong, I fail at logic, you speak for the "people", and the web sucks.

I understand now. Cheers mate!
post #32 of 34
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Originally Posted by Firefly7475 View Post

You're right, I'm wrong, I fail at logic, you speak for the "people", and the web sucks.

I understand now. Cheers mate!

No problem, happy to clear up your confusion.
post #33 of 34
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Originally Posted by anonymouse View Post

No problem, happy to clear up your confusion.

post #34 of 34
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Originally Posted by The-Steve View Post

His.. DEPARTMENT?? Seriously?!

Let it go.... it's a Dukes of Hazard thing.
Pity the agnostic dyslectic. They spend all their time contemplating the existence of dog.
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Pity the agnostic dyslectic. They spend all their time contemplating the existence of dog.
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