IBM bemoans Joomla-Mambo split

It's unfortunate for the Mambo open-source publishing software project and for its customers that its developers had to decamp with their source code to start the Joomla project, according to a high-ranking IBM software executive.

"It does look like the company that was shepherding this along got a little bit off track on their interests vs. the open-source community's interests," said Rod Smith, vice president of emerging Internet technology for IBM's Software Group, in an interview Tuesday. "That's a bad thing," because Mambo had a lot of traction, and the "fork" undermines that, he said.

Corporate customers dislike such conflicts, Smith said. "They're not scared of open-source software. But what they are scared of is what just happened to Mambo," he said. "If it blows up on them, they might have to do a lot of rework."

Joomla appears to have inherited the momentum, though, said David Boloker, chief technology officer of the IBM group. "The community shifted--I won't say overnight, but much faster than I thought," he said.

Smith also praised AJAX, technology that brings a richer user interface to Web browsers through browsers' JavaScript abilities.

"We like AJAX," Smith said. "I think Google Maps put it on everybody's' radar scope, and a company called Zimbra has a nice toolkit. We think over time there's going to be some momentum growing around that."

Yahoo's new Web-based e-mail software, based on technology the company got when it acquired Oddpost, uses AJAX, added David Boloker, chief technology officer of the Emerging Internet Technology Group. The new mail software is under development.

AJAX's Achilles heel today is that it's technically difficult to program in, Smith said, despite the fact that there are more than 30 different programming toolkits available. "It is not for people who are not JavaScript-experienced. It is difficult. There are some things we think need to be done around tooling to make it easier for developers."

AJAX will help reclaim ground that was lost when browsers became common, Smith said. "When browser came out, we took three steps backward in the user interface," but what the industry lost in user interface it gained in the spread of technology. I think ajax can go quite a ways. It'll take some fancy footwork and good tooling, and I don't think it's going to be a quantum step forward, but it'll be a good step forward," Smith said.

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