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Is Dojo being ignored by developers?

Posted by Shane O'Sullivan on June 19, 2007

The two main areas of interest for me over the last year or two, blog-wise that is, have been the Dojo Ajax toolkit, one of the more popular open source JavaScript toolkits, and Ubuntu Linux, the very popular operating system that is seen by many as the best chance Linux has of succeeding on the desktop.

Due to the fact that my blog is hosted on WordPress.com, I am provided with very detailed statistics on which blog posts are more popular, what days they are accessed on etc. Looking at these, a very definite trend has become apparent

While the number of hits received by the Ubuntu blogs remains more or less steady, hits on Dojo blog posts falls dramatically on the weekend.

While this is not an exact measurement by any means, it points to a worrying possibility. People are obviously working with Ubuntu on their spare time, installing it, upgrading, adding applications and window managers etc, and need help doing this. They are personally interested in Ubuntu, not just professionally. This is one of the main reasons for Ubuntu’s success – people are excited and motivated by it. They want to work and play with it on their own time.

This does not seem to be the case for Dojo.

Dojo has the backing of many large and small companies, including two I have worked for, my previous employer IBM, and my current employer Curam. Both of these are attracted to Dojo for a number of reasons, chief among them being it’s good design and wide range of features. The very large size of the toolkit is not a problem for them (and corporations in general) because it will be included in websites that employees will use to do their everyday work tasks (e.g. using a corporate installation of IBM WebSphere Portal), so the JavaScript is cached and the performance hit is avoided.

However, for hobbyists, this is not the case. A person might only visit a single page on their website, and a ~200KB overhead for perhaps something simple like a collapsible menu and some fading effects is simply not feasible. I’ve experienced this recently when writing a simple website for myself - all I wanted was some fading/sliding effects, but the huge overhead just wasn’t worth it. And I am a very big supporter of Dojo (I’ve contributed code even – here and here), and use it every day at work.

The Dojo team are working hard on the 0.9 release, which is addressing many of these issues, bringing the base size down to a more manageable size (at time of writing dojo.js is down to 68KB). I look forward to the day when my site statistics change, when Dojo can stand on the shoulders of many thousands of enthusiastic hackers rather than being held up by a few big corporations. I really do.

However, this does not seem to be the case today. Version 0.9 has a lot of work to do.
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5 Responses to “Is Dojo being ignored by developers?”

  1. Sam said

    I’ve noticed the same thing on #dojo. Outside of (US) office hours traffic drops noticably. I’m usually logged into the #drupal-support channel at the same time – another popular OSS project – and it seems to be non-stop over there.
    Recently on #dojo there’s been more traffic as folks putting in long hours on 0.9 are using the channel. But it does seem that few people are doing this stuff for fun yet.

  2. Jan Ivar said

    Well, I must say I was suprised by you comparing Dojo to Ubuntu. Dojo is a toolkit for programmers while Ubuntu is a Linux distro with millions of users. How you could go comparing those at any level I really don’t understand, not even on something small like your site statistics :)

  3. What I’m comparing is not the number of hits posts relating to different subjects receive (Dojo gets almost as many as Ubuntu btw). I’m comparing the pattern of WHEN they receive their hits, spread over the days of the week. There is a very definite pattern which I can’t help but notice, and felt it was worthwhile sharing.

    It is a well known fact that many programmers feel that the current version of Dojo is extremely bloated and unsuitable for use on a simple website with just a few JavaScript requirements. What I am pointing out is that my site statistics support this – and yes, I know that this is not a huge sample of web traffic, as pointed out in the comment “While this is not an exact measurement by any means….”, but that doesn’t make me wrong :-)

  4. Hey Shane,

    So a couple of months later, I’d love to know how you think this is progressing (now that 0.9 is out and 1.0 is imminent). Would be really interesting to see how the traffic distribution changes between now and the end of the year (a couple of months after 1.0).

    Regards

  5. Hi Alex,

    The pattern is still occurring. I think it will take some more time for Dojo 0.9 and 1.0 to gain traction with the Prototype and jQuery crowd. Once they realise that the bloat is more or less eliminated from the base package, removing that barrier to entry, they will start looking at all the other amazing packages that Dojo includes, and decide to dip their toes in the water. I’m sure it’s happening even now, though we’ll have to wait and see.

    Shane

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