Saturday, 20 January 2007

Platform for Internet based desktop applications

Lately some people have been predicting that applications that are installed locally on a user's computer are on their way out and will be replaced by online applications. When someone wants to e.g. write a document he surfs off to his favourite word processing site instead of starting MS Word.

There are obviously benefits with this approach.

  • No need to install local copies and keep them updated and functional.

  • Easier to switch between vendors when you don't have to make an upfront investment in a sofware package. (Although I don't doubt that vendors will do everything they can to lock users in..)

  • Software piracy should become more difficult

Currently the best example is probably Google Docs & Spreadsheets. It's an impressive piece of Javascript. But is Javascript really the platform we want to use for implementing quality online software? These sorts of things were clearly not the intended use for the language.

Maybe it's time to bring back Java applets from the dead and brush it up a bit? If online applications are going to be a success I think we need something better than a scripting language on steroids.

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