Joyent Smart Platform – a replacement for AppJet?

I’m totally two months behind with this news, but I noticed today that Joyent’s Smart Platform was Brian LeRoux‘s top pick at JSConf back in May. This, coupled with poking from Joyent-er Jim Pick and his response to the Ajaxian coverage of AppJet’s closure, encouraged me to sign up to the Smart Platform beta today.

A month ago, I wrote about how sad I was that AppJet were closing their doors to developers, leaving those of us who want easy-to-edit server-side JavaScript without any decent options. A ray of light seemed to emerge in the form of, but with uptime worse than Twitter‘s, that appears to be unusable.

Jim poked me about Smart Platform because, I think, he knows I want hosted JavaScript that’s simple. And, if you’re even an entry-level web developer, Smart Platform looks pretty simple. Joining Heroku in the there-isn’t-any deployment model, pushing your code to your Joyent git repository is all you need to do to deploy your web app. Brian’s JSConf article claims the platform is super-scalable and all that, so from a distance, Smart Platform looks like a worthy addition to the hosted development (aka Platform as a Service) brigade.

However, I’m not coming at this from the point of view of a git-wielding web developer, I’m representing a swathe of people who can cope with a bit of JavaScript and logic, but have neither the time nor the inclination to get into the world of desktop development. When AppJet was still around, we had an edit button, a single page of a few dozen lines and a cross-domain AJAX API. This, surprisingly enough, was all you needed to apply some programmatic patching to a bunch of different use-cases: automated workflows, Facebook applications, mini web-services.

In fact that last one – mini web-services – is the crux of what I’m getting at here: programming doesn’t have to be about applications, it can be tiny web services that do something for you that you’ve cloned from someone else and tweaked until it works.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – I will pay for what AppJet were providing. People will pay for what AppJet were providing. If you can’t get a squillion to provide this platform for free, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t provide it for a charge. I’ll be your first customer.



  1. Posted July 6, 2009 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

    Looking forward to see what you do with the platform!

    I’m new at Joyent, but without a doubt, the Smart Platform is the thing we are most excited about. People come to Joyent for our scaling expertise. This is why we care.

    I love a quote by David Paul Young, our CEO: “if your architecture can’t get small, then you can’t get big”

    What could be smaller than a JavaScript function? That’s why we love Smart!

    Joyent serves billions of web requests a month, so this is a serious thing for us. Smart is definitely not going to go the way of AppJet. As a small, lean company, we are planning to happily undercut Amazon and Google on pricing, and stay profitable while doing it. 🙂

    • Posted July 7, 2009 at 12:01 am | Permalink

      Jim, thanks for your response.

      Best thing you could do for me would be to help me figure out how Smart Platform can give me that one-page edit->save experience.


      • Posted July 15, 2009 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

        I definitely think Bespin could be hosted on it somehow. There probably needs to be some git interface somewhere. I’m not sure what Bespin does for saving – apparently they have hg support.

        The app would probably require a natively-hosted git install somewhere with a little web API wrapped around it.

        To be really nice, I’d like to see Smart adopt a provisioning API with OAuth for setting up new applications. That’s something I’ll be lobbying for on the roadmap.

  2. Mike
    Posted October 22, 2009 at 7:38 pm | Permalink

    I ended up here while trying to find some alternatives to AppJet. I also would have paid for AppJet for sure!

    I’ve been a web designer for about 6 years, and I have tons of experience with high level stuff, like building basic CRUD apps in various languages and frameworks. But as a designer I don’t have time to really learn an entire language. I was absolutely *pumped* to learn about AppJet.

    I’ve started using Jaxer by Aptana, it’s really cool, but it seems like the project is dead. The forums are locked, and nothing’s been updated. It’s a shame because after watching the screencast I was pumped to start developing using it.

    Joyent looks cool as well, but no information about deployment *not* on their cloud – I understand though.

    So, there is a huge gap here. These projects we’re moving in the right direction, but seemed to get gobbled up by prospects of funding for other operations.

    There isn’t much thats easy, AND easy to deploy. I don’t even think you can deploy appjet on shared hosting, or smart, or jaxer.

    Something’s got to give soon and bring this type of development to the masses. It could be huge for all the designers with great ideas but no time to learn python or php or ruby, and learn how to setup servers, etc.

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  1. […] about AppJet’s demise and the shoddy state of potential replacements, and got quite a nice response from Jim Pick at Joyent. I decided today to have a play with their new Smart Platform and had a go […]