Why Comet Daily?

by Dylan SchiemannOctober 18th, 2007

In the years prior to Gmail, Google Maps, and the coining of the term Ajax, JavaScript was generally an overlooked and underutilized language that most developers were afraid to use in a meaningful manner.

Google took care of the lack of mainstream killer applications using the technology stack, and the term “Ajax” took care of the missing marketing link. While Java had Sun and Flash had Macromedia, the JavaScript language was a fragmented mess with no one company championing its adoption to the worldwide developer community. Instead, JavaScript was a language that was available for development in every major browser on the market but lacked consistent support, mostly due to incomplete DOM implementations.

Without an advocate pushing its adoption, it was several years before the world became aware of the possibilities of Ajax, but today it enjoys one of the most vibrant and active technical communities in the short history of the internet. That said, its adoption could have occurred much earlier if people understood what it offered and how it worked.

Comet, the term coined by Alex Russell in his seminal article on this topic, has followed a somewhat similar adoption trajectory. Like Ajax, Comet is a collection of techniques and technologies rather than a single language or option. In fact, Comet techniques have been around for about 8 years, and like Ajax and JavaScript, there is no one company promoting or explaining Comet to the masses.

The barrier to entry for Comet is quite a bit higher than it is for Ajax: it is conceptually more complex and currently requires the use of a non-standard web server, because Apache and IIS are not optimized for the scaling requirements necessary for Comet techniques. That said, when you need Comet, you really need Comet.

Comet requires server-side and client-side expertise as well as other advanced concepts. For example, connection resource pooling and asynchronous programming are not the types of techniques that today’s average web developer would describe as familiar and simple. So, our goal is to help make sense of Comet and provide resources that simplify and inform the development community.

We have gathered together a group of very talented people that are building today’s Comet servers, clients, and applications. Together, we hope to demystify and simplify all things Comet.

4 Responses to “Why Comet Daily?”

  1. zeank Says:

    Another interesting protocol while not yet being discussed widely is BOSH (which separates itself from COMET but actually could be called some sophisticated COMET technology too). BOSH has evolved from XMPP’s formerly called HTTP Binding protocol. It’s primary purpose is for routing XML over HTTP.
    The detailed protocol description can be found at: http://www.xmpp.org/extensions/xep-0124.html

  2. Jacob Rus Says:

    Does BOSH work with browsers?

  3. Comet Daily » Blog Archive » Comet vs. BOSH? Says:

    [...] November 5th, 2007 - zeank [...]

  4. Jerod Venema Says:

    Hey Dylan! Just wanted to mention that we’ve actually got a highly scalable solution for IIS working quite nicely (called WebSync). You can check it out at http://www.frozenmountain.com/websync. We’d love any feedback from anyone interested and active in the Comet community!

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