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Exclusive Q&A with Jeff Haynie, Co-Founder & CEO, Appcelerator

Appcelerator Building Out the RIA Open Source Community

AJAX & RIA Journal: How about Eclipse, will we see an Eclipse-based IDE at all?

Haynie: We’ve been actively working on our next product introduction, the Appcelerator RIA Developer, which is an Eclipse based IDE. The official launch of the Appcelerator RIA Developer will be in March, along with our revamped Appcelerator Developer Network. Developers can download the beta version of the Appcelerator RIA Developer now at http://updates.appcelerator.org.
We’re big fans of the Eclipse programming model and use it internally to build our own applications. Of course we also provide the Appcelerator Platform SDK for developers to use in Eclipse or the programming environment of their choice.
The Appcelerator RIA Developer is also in full compliance with our license agreement with Aptana – it’s actually “Powered by Aptana”, which we think is a great product as well.

AJAX & RIA Journal: You recently announced that Marc Fleury has joined your Advisory Board; what in particular drew you to him, and him to Appcelerator?
Haynie: Marc and I go way back, to my early days as a contributor and core developer on JBoss. He’s become a good friend and is genuinely excited about the space and the opportunity to help us solve many of the enterprise RIA development challenges that exist today.
Marc has a keen eye for emerging technologies that can solve big problems, and is clearly an asset to our team at this stage in our development. As a founding father of commercial open source, he’ll also be an asset in helping us refine our business model to sustain Appcelerator for the long-haul.


AJAX & RIA Journal: What’s your take on Mårten Mickos’s change of heart, suddenly opting to be acquired by Sun rather than take MySQL to an IPO as he’d otherwise planned?
Haynie: If anything, this move further validates the viability of open source as a business model. If any doubters remain around the impact open source will have on the future of software licensing, Sun’s acquisition certainly got their attention.
It was a smart move for Sun to reach out to MySQL. As the world’s largest widely-adopted open source database, this acquisition significantly enhances Sun’s competitive advantage in the marketplace.

AJAX & RIA Journal: You have gone on record as saying that Microsoft will convert and one day become the biggest advocate of open source in the entire industry. Can you unpack that prediction for us?
Haynie: Your guess is as good as mine when it comes to what Microsoft will actually do in the end, but its recent love affair with Yahoo is a clear indication of their commitment to embracing open source. Yahoo has long embraced open source movements, and has been a significant contributor to some of the most successful communities to date. If Microsoft is successful with its pursuit of Yahoo, it will further enhance its ability to move towards an open source, open model in the future.
Microsoft clearly sees Google and others as a direct threat to their model. Open source will help them retain their competitive advantage, breathe new life into their developer communities – their lifeblood, and help them more widely distribute and drive adoption for their products.

AJAX & RIA Journal: How about Adobe then? Appcelerator's technology competes with Flex-Flash...will Adobe also abandon closed source over time, do you think? Will Flex Data Services be open-sourced in response to Appcelerator?
Haynie: Adobe clearly has the right idea around Flex and Flash. We view their solutions in line competitively with ours in terms of enabling developers to create next-generation Web applications faster and easier. There’s no question that they have a head-start in the emerging RIA market – and think there are some significant application benefits delivered through the capabilities of their Flash player.
We can see how application requirements are being satisfied by the Flex-Flash combination, and some of our own components use Flash technology – such as the presentation of our charting widgets. We have more in common with Adobe than most would think – but vary greatly in our implementations in the market.
As we move forward, we’re interested in exploring ways to make our solution more appealing to Flex-Flash users, and vice versa.


AJAX & RIA Journal: Would you go as far as to say that the entire closed source model will eventually be gone for good?

Haynie: No. I think both models will be sustainable for the long-haul. I think you’ll see the greatest impact in areas where open source models can impact the mass of the market. For example, with Linux – not everyone can build an OS, but everyone can use an OS. That’s a great example of an area where open source can make a big dent – as we’ve seen with Linux and JBoss in that regard.

There are still a lot of cases where a proprietary model works great – and I’ve advised other companies against open source in some instances, where a proprietary solution would work better in terms of business model. Small, niche software solutions come to mind for this. There’s no need to open source an accounting software package – though I could make the argument either way.

AJAXWorld: Where do you go from here with Appcelerator?

Haynie:
Our focus today is building the community. As you know, with any open source movement, the community makes all the difference. We’ve obviously assembled a team we believe can motivate a large community to be part of the movement, but we’ve got our work cut out for us. With the launch of our new Appcelerator Developer Network next month, you’ll start to see more around our commitment to building a better community dedicated to solving RIA and SOA application development and integration challenges – pulling from all areas of application development today.

We believe Appcelerator will be the first open source community to break down the walls between programming models and languages, creating an environment where all Internet technologies can be used interchangeably to build better applications in less time, with less code and with less cost.

More Stories By Jeremy Geelan

Jeremy Geelan is Chairman & CEO of the 21st Century Internet Group, Inc. and an Executive Academy Member of the International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences. Formerly he was President & COO at Cloud Expo, Inc. and Conference Chair of the worldwide Cloud Expo series. He appears regularly at conferences and trade shows, speaking to technology audiences across six continents. You can follow him on twitter: @jg21.

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