Code 33: the new Palantir Gotham web client
One of the most exciting things about Palantir is that nothing is sacred when it comes to our technology. We’re constantly asking ourselves, “What would we do differently if we were starting from scratch?” We’ve completely redesigned major features, introduced entirely new applications, and even retired outdated functionality. The next big change is possibly our most ambitious yet: rather than changing features within the client, we’re redefining the client itself.
By late 2011, the consensus among the product team was that if we could write the front end all over again, we’d use web technologies rather than Java Swing. Of course, when Palantir launched, Swing was very good to us. It enabled a rich graphical interface that web languages couldn’t replicate at the time. By using Java Webstart we could avoid local installs and load the client on any machine (though this also required large downloads and the installation of Java, which created the potential for release mismatches). Times change, however, and Palantir has changed with them, which is why we (including our stellar Summer 2012 intern class!) have been hard at work developing an entirely new, fully-featured web client. We call it Code 33.
Here are just some of the major benefits we anticipate from bringing Palantir Gotham into the web world:
Increased Accessibility: As a fully web-enabled product, Palantir Gotham will be easier than ever to deploy. Any modern web browser will work, with no Java or special plug-ins required. Single-page sign-on will be an option for many customers, and all users will enjoy lower bandwidth requirements and decreased download and launch times.
Improved Usability: For new users, walk-up usability will be greatly enhanced through web UI features that are already familiar and comfortable. For experienced users, the classic design elements of Palantir will all be there in a fluid web interface.
Ease of Extensibility: Code 33 embraces open web standards and a plug-in architecture, simplifying the creation of new helpers and applications. Additionally, while we chose CoffeeScript and Backbone, it’s possible to build applications on top of Code 33 using different frameworks.
Standalone Products for Specialized Users: Code 33 is built as a modular, single-page application, making it easy to prototype and field standalone tools for specific use cases. Special products already in development include a web-based document reader with integrated search and feeds, and a browser-based GIS application that displays rich, annotated maps shared by Palantir Gotham workspace users.
Code 33 in the Cloud: Code 33 is fully compatible with government and enterprise clouds, and leverages Palantir Gotham’s distributed computing framework. Code 33 delivers the Palantir Gotham client in the browser, but moves the computational requirements of the UI from the client machine to the server in order to streamline the user experience.
It’s also worth noting that Code 33 continues to use Palantir’s standard Java-based back-end servers, allowing users to enjoy the best the web has to offer while taking advantage of years of innovation in processing, performance, scale, and security. Just as Java Webstart allowed us to provide the best aspects of both thin and thick clients five years ago, Code 33 gives users all the benefits of enterprise computing power in the most lightweight package possible. This has been a continuing theme in Palantir’s evolution. We’ve developed the platform around core principles and building blocks designed to stand the test of time, and these give us tremendous flexibility and freedom to incorporate the best new technologies, even those that haven’t been invented yet.
The Future: The first public glimpse of Code 33 came at Palantir’s GovCon Secure this past July, and the response was overwhelming. The following month, during Hack Week 2012, many of our engineers used the Code 33 developer environment to build dozens of new plug-ins, data integrations, and application modules. Operational rollout of Code 33 will begin for select customers in early 2013. Stay tuned for more in the months ahead on Palantir’s blogs, or at your local deployment. And check out the additional screenshots below of the Search and Graph applications. [Note: all data is notional.]
One last thing: why is it called Code 33? The name was inspired by the Code 33 blend made by our beloved Philz Coffee. Coincidentally, this is the blend Philz developed to help the San Francisco Fire Department stay up all night, and we can confirm that it does the trick!