History

Version 1 – Plangarden software was first started in fall of 2004 using Swishmax. Swishmax was a low cost alternative to Macromedia Flash (Later acquired by Adobe). At the time there were tons of ads written in Flash, but it wasn’t know for supporting full applications. The language support was ECMAScript meaning it shared the structure to JavaScript. This was familiar and a good standard. This version of Plangarden still exists for historical purposes, but was never released to the public. It showed proof of concept in using the web as the data source and could move vegetables and basic primitives around the screen in layer. The first vegetable ever put in Plangarden was the garlic and that image survived through 2020. At the time Roy had grown over 40 different types of garlic and has always been a staple in his garden.

Version 2 – While SwishMax was a great tool for starting and would have supported a minimal version of Plangarden, it was clear that to build the full version would require moving to Macromedia Flash. Changing to ActionScript 2 was familiar, but a complete rewrite of many sections to take advantage of the language. Plangarden also moved from saving gardens as text files to moving to a database. During this time Adobe acquired Macromedia and created a few bumps along the way. Over the next several years Roy intermittently when to Adobe Max Conference both in San Francisco and in Los Angles and spoke with developers and principle architects of Flash and ActionScript. It was clear that Plangarden was part of a community that was pushing Flash to be more than an advertisement or game platform. Better DB and enterprise features were requested.

Version 3 – Adobe made the move to ActionScript 3 and Plangarden went right along with it as the new language was a more grown-up version of the language. While gardeners didn’t see any changes at first, it created a better platform from which to build and develop a more robust applications. Again this was a rewrite of the software to take advantage of the sweeping changes that came with it.

Missteps in Technology

Flex Builder – For a while Adobe was focused on developer tools that equaled the attention they gave to products for creative users. During this time Flex Builder was announced. While the promise was interesting and Roy kicked the tires and wrote small test apps, yet Flex Builder wasn’t ready for big projects like Plangarden had bugs and performance was questionable. The the time to migrate equally daunting to the risks.

Other Dark Alleys – There was a clear point where Flash’s days were numbered. So a quest began to look for technologies to replace Plangarden. The goal still was to write once and be able to deliver on many platform. Writing in pure JS was an option, but is messy and hard to maintain larger scaled applications. Technologies with lineages to C++, Java and frameworks of many flavors were looks at. Finding the right mix for Plangarden took Roy down many dark alleys writing sample code, checking market share and stability of the platforms. All play a role when you are trying to build something that last.