Gmail new Compose and why I like it!

Google has changed the way composing new messages works in Gmail. Now when clicking compose, Gmail opens a new window layered on top of the inbox instead of switching to another widow as it used to be.

I like it a lot. Now I can write several email messages without the need to switch between browser window. Gmail was always rapidly fast, but with this new behavior it is feels even faster than before.

Gmail also changed the reply button behavior. This is something I don’t really get nor like. It feels confusing an improper, but I’m not sure why it gets me such ‘messy’ feeling.

I’m sure that this rollout of new features is highly monitored by Google Gmail analytics capabilities, and within few days Google will conclude their A/B testing and come up with the winning model for the reply button behavior.

This is yet another proof to the power of single page applications (SPA) in modern web development. Now it’s easier to do with frameworks like Ember.js (which we use and love at Totango), Angular¬†and others.

GWT is dead!

GWT is dead at least for us at Totango. We are in the final stages of migrating all of Totango ui into native HTML5. I know this is probably not news for people who follow the landscape of front-end JavaScript frameworks, however, I’ve been asked several times within the past couple of months to recommend the usage of GWT, so just to be absolutely clear – I don’t recommend anyone to start using GWT as this project is not going anywhere.

Although Google is investing a lot in it’s developer support, GWT was never a true open source project. Even now, the direction of the project is not communicated to it’s community. Google can decide not to support the project anymore and do something else, but not communicating with people who have adopted their technology is a wrong thing to do. Personally, I don’t trust Google open source technologies anymore and prefer now to work with pure open source projects.

GWT was an attempt to shorten the path for Java developers and get them to become productive on modern web applications without learning much of JavaScript and CSS and HTML. This was my assumption when first started to code Totango.

We have collectively learned since, that it is much easier to get a grip of the modern web techniques, best practices and tools, rather than overcoming those with the GWT abstraction layer. The best practices of the GWT framework are good, however, those could be easily replicated in other technologies as well.

Since GWT was not taking advantage of existing packages and libraries which were already developed in JavaScript, it was difficult for the project to move fast enough, leaving the GWT community to look for alternative for some very basic functionality required in these days web. The most obvious one was the lack of a proper animation support, which comes for free for in jQuery.

GWT promise was – “Productivity for developers, performance for users”. I have found that pure HTML5 and jQuery when needed are way more productive and better performing.