I've been using ExtJS and Touch for about 10 months now. In that time, I've noticed what I feel is a missed opportunity for Sencha to interact at a deeper level with the community.

For folks who don't want to read all of this, the TL/DR summary is:
  • Set up a real feature and issue tracker
  • Create a Community Leader and/or Customer Advisory Group
  • Start regular technical presentations from the developer team
To be clear, I don't just mean "participate on these forums more", since the Sencha folks seem to keep up with the forums very well. And I don't mean the blog, which is updated fairly regularly. I mean something at a deeper level. To be honest, from the outside, Sencha is something of a black box.

First, even Premium members don't have access to any true issue tracking or feature voting system (such as Jira or Youtrack). We really don't have much of an idea what Sencha is working on or what is coming. I have no doubt that the developers are working on things, I just have absolutely no idea what they are. I'd love to see more transparency here, and the use of a proper public issue tracker.

Second, I am (or have been) a member of various "advisory boards" or "community leader" groups for other companies/platforms (Adobe, for example). As far as I know, there's nothing like this at Sencha. I have no idea who might be best suited for membership in this sort of group. But just knowing such a group exists, "has Sencha's ear", and can provide feedback to them from the viewpoint of real people using their platform on real projects would be nice to know. A lot of good ideas can come from groups like this, and it can provide a sanity check on features or changes. Sencha wouldn't be obligated to *obey* such a group, but at least they'd get the feedback.

And finally, I'd really love to see Sencha occasionally get the internal developers in front of the community. This could be done with blog entries, but I think videos or (even better) live meetings (which would be recorded and published) would be a huge boon. Get one of the grid or tree gurus to take an hour and give a "deep dive" into how they work. Get a layout guru to talk about those. Get a class expert to go into the guts of the class system, preprocessors, etc.. Have someone explain the do's and don't of bypassing the components and leveraging the underlying HTML elements. Cover the differences between Touch and ExtJS and the best ways to allow code reuse across them. The list of things that could be discussed is endless. It could even be open for non-Sencha folks to present, if they have a topic they understand well.

There are a few books out on ExtJS and Touch. I've read them all. And as someone who has actually written a book, I know how hard it is. But that said, the books can barely scratch the surface of something as deep and complex as ExtJS and Touch. Presentations like this would not have to take up a lot of the dev team's time, would really engage the community, and could greatly raise the level of knowledge about the depths of the platform. As it sits right now, if I have a complex feature to build (lockable, buffered TreeGrid, anyone?), my only real options are to ask for bits of help on the forums, or spend dozens of hours in trial-and-error. Technical meetups could cut away a big chunk of the individual trial-and-error that I suspect many folks currently undertake alone.

Thoughts? Comments? Ridicule?

Brian