MJS 033: Dylan Schiemann

Today's episode is a My JavaScript Story with Dylan Schiemann. Dylan talked about his contributions to the JavaScript community to what JavaScript is back in 2004. Listen to learn more about Dylan!

[01:10] – Introduction to Dylan Schiemann

Dylan was on episode 62 of JavaScript Jabber, which was about 4 years ago. We had him on to talk about the Dojo Toolkit.

[02:00] – How did you get into programming?

When Dylan was 7 or 8 years old, he and his father took basic programming class together. In Junior high, probably mid-1980’s, he received his first Commodore 64 computer. He picked up the Programmer’s Reference Guide, toppled on Assembly, and tried to write data to a tape drive. It got updated to a floppy drive. And then in high school, he took some Pascal classes. He learned the basics – ranging from BASIC, Pascal, and to Assembly.

[03:00] – How did you get into JavaScript?

As an undergraduate, Dylan studied Chemistry and Mathematics. He did some basic HTML and discovered the web roughly when he was a junior year in college. And then, he went to graduate school and studied Physical Chemistry at UCLA. He was studying the topology and reality of quasi-two-dimensional phone. If you imagine a bunch of beer bubbles at the top of a glass, and you spin it around really quickly, you watch how the bubbles rearrange as force is applied to it. He wanted to put his experiments on the web so he started learning this new language that had just been invented called JavaScript. So, he dropped out of graduate school a few years later. Eight years after that point in time, it was possible to show his experiments with Dojo and SVG.

[04:25] – How did you get into Dojo and the other technologies?


Right after grad school, Dylan helped start a company called SitePen. That let him really learn how JavaScript works. He started doing some consulting work. And he started working with Alex Russell, who had a project called netWindows at the time, which is a predecessor to any JavaScript framework that most people have worked with.


Dylan got together and decided to create a next generation version of the HTML toolkit, which ended up becoming Dojo back in 2004. Things that they created back then are now part of the language – asynchronous patterns such as Promises, or even modules, widgets, which led to the web components pack. Over the years, they’ve built on that and done various utilities for testing and optimizing applications.

[06:20] – Ideas that stood the test of time

A lot of the things that Dylan and his team did in Dojo were on the right path but first versions ended up iterating before they’ve met their way into the language. Other things are timing. They were there very early and but to tell people in 2005 and 2006 that you need to architect the front-end application met some confusion of why you would want to do that. According to him, they never created Dojo to say that they want to create the world’s leading framework.

[07:45] – JavaScript

Dylan no longer answers the question of, “Oh, JavaScript, you mean, Java?”

The expectations of 2004 were the hope of making something that might work in a browser. The expectation today is we are competing against every platform and trying to create the best possible software in the world, and do it in a way that’s distributable everywhere in the browser. The capabilities have grown. There are audio, video and real-time capabilities. They were ways to do those things but they were brutal and fragile. And now, we have real engineering solutions to many of those things but there are still going to be ways to do this. There were few people who are interested in this and maybe this wasn’t even their day job. But now, literally hundreds and thousands of engineers who write code in JavaScript every day.


Dylan Schiemann

Charles Max Wood


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