Yahoo Clouds Web App Development With “Cocktails”

It's not bad enough that we developers have to make tough choices between native-platform app development and HTML5-based Web app development, now Yahoo comes along with a binge drink with which to confuse us even further.

The fading search giant has cobbled together a fairly ugly looking combination of technologies in what it calls "Cocktails". This guest column at CNET provides a glossing-over of what Cocktails is, without trying to be sufficiently specific to allow any real examination. The most salient fact we can derive from the puff piece is that Cocktails will combine HTTP, HTML5, Cascading Style Sheets, and JavaScript into some sort of development platform that they'd like us to think is really new. But wait a second. What does "HTML5" mean? While the label gets bandied about fairly frivolously, most developers who've taken a few minutes to look into it know that HTML5 is the next major development in HTML5 that will enable the design of richer application-style interfaces and interactions including multimedia.

Anyone developing Web apps using the loosely defined HTML5 technology suite would surely be using HTML, CSS and JavaScript, so what exactly is new in Cocktails?

In the CNET piece, Yahoo's Bruno Fernandez-Ruiz,  the technical lead for Cocktails, says, without, apparently, any sense of irony, "Our platform combines basic ingredients that exist on the Web already, including HTTP and HTML, Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) for formatting and animation effects, and JavaScript for more sophisticated programming (both on a Web server and on individual devices)."

So, what exactly is new here again? 

If you go beyond today's CNET piece, you can find out that the major differentiator claimed for Cocktails is the use of server-side JavaScript (SSJS). Hardly new. Check out this piece from SitePoint that's almost exactly three years old predicting SSJS would become as popular and widespread as PHP. That hasn't apparently happened yet but SSJS is hardly new. At best, then, it appears Cocktails is an incremental improvement on lots of platform-agnostic Web app development platforms that allows the developer to take better advantage of SSJS. 

Yahoo has released two cocktails so far: Mojito, yet another environment-agnostic JavaScript Web application framework, and Yahoo! Manhattan, a hosted platform for Mojito-based applications. 

Useful, yes. Exciting? World-changing? Don't think so.

1 comment for “Yahoo Clouds Web App Development With “Cocktails”

  1. olympum
    March 6, 2012 at 2:06 am

    You’d be surprised how many competent developers don’t care about progressive enhancement, or don’t know how to make their app run in bad networks when JS takes seconds to trigger, or manage the memory when running within a native UIWebView in iOS, or modularize the app, … For the web as a platform to win, it needs to accept that going forward the web browser will only become part of the equation, and the web also needs to win _outside_ the browser. I am not aware of many web developers that are already doing that. Example in case: do you know how to manage memory in an app running in a web browser, so that when you instantiate a video object the browser does not run out of memory and the OS kills the browser instance? Because, if you don’t, users will go towards native.So although HTML5, CSS3, JS are there, they hardly meet what native can do without significant investment from the developer. There is a lot of handholding the developer needs to add. And in some cases, it’s not even possible without “twisting” the specs.Cocktails does not add many new ingredients. Rather it’s mainly about mixing existing stuff, in the open, and with the standard bodies. Unlike others that have developed a new language, or a proprietary OS, or a closed app-store. Except Mozilla perhaps, I am not aware of any other organization genuinely pushing the web as _the_ platform in so many fronts as Yahoo is.