The Next Wave of Comet: A Panel Discussion

by Kevin NilsonOctober 20th, 2009

I recall just a few years ago hearing warning that Ajax should be avoided. As I recall, the biggest objection to Ajax at the time was that users were not ready for Ajax. Many felt that users expected pages to fully refresh and re-rendering part of a page would cause confusion. Others Ajax skeptics were warning about issues such as cross-browser compatibility, security, and browser memory leaks. Google release two trend setting applications, GMail and Google Maps, that completely changed the way we view Ajax, eventually making Ajax a household name. Today it would be quite difficult to find a fortune 500 website that doesn’t heavily use Ajax.

Today Comet is plagued by slow adoption, just as Ajax was less than a decade ago. Comet has been around for over a decade now and it still has very low adoption. Many great frameworks and Comet servers have been developed, but Comet still hasn’t taken off. The Servlet 3 Spec will soon be released, which will both standardize async and Comet support in Java Application Servers, but I feel this will have little impact on the adoption of Comet. Michael Carter has often warned me that Comet is like a “big back-hole that will suck you in and eat up all you time with limited return”.

Google has released it’s next big product, Wave, which is a showcase for comet. I am hoping that Comet’s adoption rate will exponentially grow after the public adopts Wave. I hope Wave will be Comet’s enabler just like GMail and Google Maps enabled Ajax.

On October 21st at Google’s Headquarters in Mountain View, CA I will be moderating a panel for the Silicon Valley Web Builder with a few of Comet’s visionaries and innovators. The panelist include Michael Carter, Ted Goddard, Alex Russell, Dylan Schiemann and Greg Wilkins; four of which are CometDaily contributors. This is the second year for the panel and this year I have decided to title the panel “The Next Wave of Comet”. The event free and is already “sold out” after giving out 275 tickets. I will be kicking off the event by using Google Wave as a demonstration tool to introduce comet. Members of Google’s Wave team will show a few features of Wave followed by a quick demo of the Google Health Wave, given by my friend Siamak Ashrafi of

This year’s Comet panel should be full of excitement. As moderator of the panel I am looking forward to asking Greg about his harsh remarks around Servlet 3. Several of the panelist are pushing products or open source frameworks, so I can’t wait to hear them battle out where is the best place to start a new Comet project. I am also looking forward to asking Michael about his new Comet Session Protocol (CSP) and why it is a better option than WebSockets or Bidirectional Web Transfer Protocol (BWTP). I know Greg is pushing hard for BWTP and Michael is pushing hard for CSP, so who knows maybe this panel will lead to a rematch of Colliding Comets: Battle of the Bayeux. Last year’s most controversial topic seemed to be Ted and Michael’s debate around browser capabilities. I am excited to see what question will spark debate this year. Hopefully the panelist will loosen up and put on another good show.

Video’s for the panel will be posted here as soon as they are available online. I hope you will enjoy watching the videos as much as I will enjoy asking the tough questions. You can view video of last year’s panel. Last year I also gave a brief workshop on Comet following the panel discussion.

One Response to “The Next Wave of Comet: A Panel Discussion”

  1. Luis Says:

    I think Wave will in fact be the comet enabler.

    The Wave gadgets make comet development extremely easy. The barrier to entry right now is just an invite. The code can be done in a text editor.

    One thing that makes it simple is that waves are similar to Bayeux channels without having to worry about the server side part of creating and maintaining the channels. The channel also receives events that are private to the owner and whoever has been added.

    For a Wave gadget you just make the html and javascript snippet embedded in an XML file. Your javascript just registers functions for user events and state changes.

    Supporting user specific channels, authentication, gadgets, friends, and maintaining current and historical state can all be done with a good javascript library like dojo or jquery against a cometd server with some work. It just seems that figuring out all the pieces is a very large task right now compared to just publishing an XML gadget file on a webserver for Wave to use.

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