DotCloud Wants to Make Real-Time Look Easy

Over the past few months, several PaaS providers have announced easy ways to build reliable, real-time web applications, by making the latest real-time technologies more accessible through their platforms. Most recently, DotCloud, a growing provider, helped to push this trend, with its announcement of DotCloud JS.

DotCloud's setup process is one of the simplest I've seen so far, with a quick-starter to get going in three steps. And in actuality, it's one step to start development, with the other two steps showing off the cool things you can do.

DotCloud highlighted it's primary benefit of enabling client-side applications to work in synchronous. This goes beyond Ajax technology, to provide more collaborative services (for the beginners: think multiplayer gaming or concurrent editors like Google Docs). The new JavaScript SDK points to DotCloud's environment, handling any server-side work for the developer.

Third-party APIs can to play friendly as well. In the walkthrough, DotCloud promotes Twitter's and Twillio's APIs, accessible through client-side Javascript. Ordinarily, cross-domain restrictions get in the way, requiring technologies like JSON-P or calling a server-side proxy. DotCloud handles that proxy part, enabling client-side API calls easily by pairing with DotCloud JS.

In detail, the service provides the following features:

  • A full-featured JavaScript SDK - with support for data storage, real-time synchronization, Twitter and Twilio Integration.
  • An open Stack - based on NodeJS, MongoDB, Redis, websocket.
  • Free deployment - with unlimited Sandbox applications.
  • A complete ecosystem - of 14 powerful cloud services via the dotCloud Platform.

DotCloud CEO, Solomon Hykes, sees the trend in new technology, and a key opportunity in making PaaS go mainstream:

"You've got web apps, mobile apps, desktop apps, and all of them increasingly 'plug' into cloud services to add functionality - and in the process they are redefining the communication layer. It used to be HTTP everywhere - but now you have new transports (things like websocket, spdy, zeromq and myriads of custom transports), and new patterns (synchronization, pub-sub, RPC...) which are really pushing the envelope, and I think there's the opportunity to really simplify the way we plug these services together. In that sense dotCloud JS is just an experiment, but it's the first of many steps in that direction."

Although Solomon considers this a bit of an experiment, he is confident in the potential of this new service:

“With this release and our recent announcement of new pricing and support services, we are beginning to redefine the role of PaaS and its responsibility to developers and IT organizations...Cloud platforms are now a legitimate alternative for critical business applications.”

Best of luck to the DotCloud team in improving the quality of web apps, as you also make them easier to build.

Be sure to read the next API article: TinyGrab Makes Screenshot Sharing Social