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How has Morfik morphed? A brief history
Morfik was officially launched at the Web 2.0 Conference, San Francisco, in October 2005. It was however several years prior to that event that the technology was conceptualised and the journey began. I have been fortunate to have shared the Morfik journey from the beginning and have had the unique opportunity to see its evolution from a mere thought to a software product that now is over 1,000,000 lines of code! What follows is how Morfik has evolved.
In the beginning . . .
In the late 90’s, Aram and I worked at Altium (previously known as Protel), an international software company that provides PC-based electronics design software for engineers. Following the successful initial public offering of Altium, we began looking for our next challenge.
Being fascinated with the web and the rise of the .com phenomenon, we pondered the concept of establishing websites that could provide a whole range of services to end users over the internet. Coming from a desktop application development background, we thought we could put our experience to use in developing dynamic websites. However, we were in for a surprise.
Our vision was to develop a solution for creating intelligent websites that would allow desktop application developers like ourselves to leverage their experience in producing dynamic web solutions.
We spent our first year in Sydney and then relocated to Hobart, Tasmania to be closer to our families. This location provided a haven for research and development, with little distraction, away from competing demands.
From concept to the tangible . . .
We set about developing the technology; converting our ideas and research into something concrete. Early in the piece, we realised that to do this properly we needed a compiler that could work with a high abstraction view of a website. So, one of the first things that we started working on was a compiler which compiled high-level code and built a complete semantic map of a website.
The road less travelled . . .
We staunchly stood by our commitment to build a tool that was going to help software developers move onto the web. At that time, other development tools were investing in server-side technologies and were treating end user machines as a dumb terminal. In contrast our approach was very much browser-centric and relied on the power of its Document Object Model (DOM) as implemented in the latest versions of the browsers of the time (Netscape 4 and IE 4/5).
Validation – getting Ajaxed . . .
In March 2005 we came across a fascinating article by Jesse James Garrett, “Ajax: A New Approach to Web Applications” in which the term Ajax was coined. (http://www.adaptivepath.com/ideas/essays/archives/000385.php) It is a day etched into our memory! His article had taken the web application design world by storm – and the methodologies discussed in the article were exactly the same as Morfik’s approach! It was a momentous moment for us. We felt that the time was right to show the world what we had created so we started preparing for the Web 2.0 conference.
Web 2.0 accolades . . .
A pre-release version of Morfik was finally ready, and we launched it at the Web 2.0 conference in San Francisco in October 2005. To showcase the capabilities of Morfik, we created an implementation of Gmail that worked offline. A demo business solution also demonstrated the power of solutions based on Ajax technologies. Our new tool created a lot of buzz amongst conference attendees and caught the attention of both Microsoft and Google.
The conference was a huge success for us, leaving us breathless at the unprecedented attention – Morfik had emerged from its shell. Following the conference we were approached by a number of leaders in the software development world, some with serious acquisition offers. But, choosing the road less travelled, we decided to do it the hard way, not to sell out to more powerful players and to stay true to our vision. Instead, we bunkered down to complete the task of turning the technology into a real product.
Turning technology into product . . .
We spent several years doggedly working on the software. Starting from Morfik 0.8 alpha release in Dec 2005 we went through a number of releases leading to the release of Morfik 2.0 in November 2008 and subsequent releases of three service packs in 2009. With the latest release of Morfik we now feel we have reached a level of product strength where we are confident to enter the next phase – offering Morfik as a complete and quality product to mainstream software developers.