Full disclosure, I spoke at the Sencha conference on jQTouch and I'm an Adobe community member.
The location of the conference was the Fairmont hotel in San Francisco. For those not familiar with the Fairmont, it's located at the top of Nob Hill with amazing views of the Bay. The conference kicked off with a well rehearsed keynote that set the tone for the conference. Sencha laid out their product roadmap, highlighted their involvement with open source projects and had several impressive demos built with Sencha technology.
As a newbie in the Sencha community I was getting my first look at their tools. Ext Designer is a WYSIWYG tool for designing rich interfaces with robust data back ends and reminded me of Adobe's FlashBuilder. I also attended a session on CSS Animator, a tool for building animations using CSS 3. You build your animations along a timeline with basic shapes, text and imported images. CSS Animator is a 1.0 and a little rough around the edges, but definitely points to the future of browser based animation.
Sencha Labs now hosts several open source projects like jQTouch and Raphael. I kept wondering how open source fits into Sencha's long term plans. My theory is Sencha hired the creators of these open source projects not for the projects, but the brains behind them. Who else knows more about the emerging HTML 5 standards than these innovative folks. In addition, Sencha engineers are contibuting code to the open source WebKit browser. This makes perfect sense for a company betting their future on web standards.
Steve Balmer said it best. "Developers, Developers, Developers," Sencha needs to win the hearts and minds of developers, but what kind of developer? Are they targeting the Ruby on Rails or Dreamweaver crowd? As of today, ExtJS itself seem hard to the "average" coder. Ext Designer and CSS Animator points towards a toolset for designers as well as developers. Recently Adobe threw it's support behind jQuery with the next release of Dreamweaver and gave a sneek peak at a tool for CSS Animations code named "Edge". Sencha has a very smart and agile team. What remains to be seen is execution on their long term plans and mass adoption by developers. The biggest unknown how all the HTML 5 hype will play out in the marketplace.
It's an exciting time for companies like Sencha as we all push into the future.