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Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Browser Advancements & Changing Nature Of Applications

we recently covered in this blog, Bandwidth Is Microsoft's Enemy wherein we covered along with bountiful availability of bandwidth, the nature of platfor would change substantially. Mitch Kapoor writes that with the advent of browsers, the expectation of end users are changing about the nature of applications. Excerpts with edits and my comments added:

For 25 years, the superiority of the PC as an application platform, has remained unchallenged but times change and reconsideration is in order. The web browser and the infrastructure of the World Wide Web is on the cusp of bettering its aging cousin, the desktop-based graphical user interface for common PC applications.
The advent of Google's gmail service has been a signal occasion in the evolution of web apps. The great search, relatively simple filtering and labeling features, and auto-complete of addresses more than meet one's needs
. Surprisingly, the UI, while hardly enjoying the visual elegance of Apple's mail application is just about up to the task. Technically, there is no reason valuable, missing capabilities like drag and drop can't be put in a browser. Google just hasn't, yet. Even without drag and drop, the UI is serviceable.If gmail offered a way to synchronize gracefully with IMAP (including associations between labels and folders), and if it let me store more than 1 GB of mail as well as retain more ownership and control of my mail, it would be a happy situation to keep a unified archive. T

The greater convenience of the browser has been evident for many years. Browsers work from every PC, while desktop applications do not as they have to be installed (purchased, licensed, etc.) where they are to run. One can check my mail from anywhere.The exception to the far greater convenience of the browser is off-line usage. With no net connection, data stored in a web app is inaccessible. So, infrastructure to support local storage of data (via caching, via something fancier) as a standard affordance of web-based applications is perhaps the biggest remaining barrier to be overcome. There is no fundamental reason as to why this can't be overcome either on a case-by-case basis, or better, in a more general way which would work not just for a given application, but for many of them.
So far, I've been describing redoing the feature set of a conventional app for the web. When an application, like Chandler, tries to break new ground in functionality or interface, matters grow considerably more complex. But for any new application project I get involved in starting, strong predisposition would be to think in terms of a web interface as primary.

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