When Developers Lose Interest

Years of my work life have been consumed in the development of JavaScript. Most of it were spent on a framework called Mootools. Despite all the negativity from JavaScript purists (mostly); Mootools was for me a glowing beacon of organised code in a dark and dangerous landscape.

I developed dozens of plugins, partial libraries and applications with Mootools at their core. I developed whole interface libraries, comparable (in scale) to libraries like jQuery UI. I took on contracts to write Mootools-based UI components for larger CMS systems. It was an interesting time for me.

Today, most of this stuff has been deleted (though a remnant remains, rotting on GitHub). I write comparably few lines of JavaScript, and it’s always just to learn something new. Gone are the days when I had the bug tracker bookmarked. Gone are the days when I wanted to push code to Core, or More.

An endemic lack of passion is what defines the Mootools community. Those that still frequent the mailing lists may disagree, but it’s more out of loyalty than truth. Mootools is dead. I’m not the first (or even the most qualified) to say so, though I have certainly tried to convince myself of it’s vitality. I have defended it to colleagues who knew better. I have defended it to loyalists of other libraries who just felt like arguing. But what I was defending was a memory.

All software dies. The death of Mootools is as expected as it is unnatural. You see; when software dies, it’s usually because the users have jumped ship for a better product/library/methodology. In the case of Mootools; the same apathy that I feel for it was born in the core development team.

There are lots of people who would love to see it continue. Those people, however, do not include the core development team. Aaron Newton has been speaking about this for a long time. He recently said; “To put it simply, the project is at a stand still and the core team is no longer really maintaining the codebase for various reasons.”

This story does not end well. Aaron talks about making a community edition; completely run by the people who still care to work on Mootools. It’s a good idea, yet it will probably suffer the mailing list atrophy that 1.4.5 and 1.5 and 2.0 have.

I respect the work that’s gone into Mootools. It’s a shame this had to happen. There will never be it’s like again.