AJAX – the amazing detergent …..

AJAX is such a buzz word now … and many ask us how we decided upon AJAX and how we ended up at the right place/right time with the right app. Well, in Dec 2003, about 9 months before Jesse James Garrett coined the word AJAX my co-founders Ross Dargahi and Roland Schemers surprised me one fine Monday with two things they had hacked up during the many weekends prior … first a really rich and fast mail app that was running inside the browser and talking XML to the backend ….and second a way to associate XML data sources to words inside email (now known as mail mashups or Zimlets as it will be known soon) – this was the genesis of the popular Google maps demo that was shown at Web2.0. Talking of Ross and Roland …. these two guys were server side programmers until we started Zimbra. They were among the best server side programmers I have met in my life …. and in my stint at Javasoft I met some great programmers. But what amazes me is the ease with which these two dudes started hacking Javascript, CSS and HTML … which included doing the initial prototype that landed us funding from some great investors … and btw they also did all of the initial visual design/graphics arts for the first year.

That brings me to the kind of people it takes to write powerful AJAX apps like Zimbra. These people are so hard to find …. because they are not your HTML developers or your JSP developers. In fact, those skills are probably a negative. The AJAX developers are computer scientists by training and maybe have done Swing/SWT/X-windows like programming. They are systems programmers who understand network programming, performance, asynchronous communication and UI … so its a very difficult breed to find. Fortunately, we have some great programmers … all of whom play easily in any role. One thing I said at a press interview … I’ll repeat … when you have a team like the one at Zimbra and a product like ours …. even a monkey can wow an audience at Web2.0 ….. and wait until you see our next milestone… this calendar UI and feature set is to die for. Do I sound like I am biased? Well that’s because it not only let’s me overlay Ross and Roland’s calendar in different colors but also let’s me subscribe to stuff like this . And Roland Schemers came up with a truly unique refreshing thing called the “Zimbra Schedule Thermometer” to help schedule among multiple people… you have to wait to see it.

And how did we build such a great team …. we all know each other for many years … less than 10% of our team were hired using recruiters and the ones that we did hire using recruiters went through an interview process that resulted in an exact cultural and professional fit that we no longer know that they weren’t with us for many years …

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