|By Sean Rhody||
|October 20, 2005 03:15 PM EDT||
To paraphrase, "I come not to praise the Browser, but to bury it." Because the cold hard fact of application development is that the browser needs to die. Immediately. It's already caused more than enough damage. This may seem to be a harsh statement. After all, the browser was responsible for the explosion of the Internet. It serves many useful purposes and people do billions of dollars worth of business through it every year. Seemingly, I should be praising the browser, not calling for its execution.
Nevertheless, the browser needs to go, and we all know it. It's the dirty secret of the IT world, one we never like to talk about - as a mechanism for delivering a GUI, the browser stinks.
Stinks isn't even a strong enough word. The browser was intended to deliver text across the Internet, and it's good at that. So good that people began to piggyback other things onto their HTML code in order to try to exploit a mechanism of enormous popularity to deliver applications. That's where the problems began.
In one sense, it is HTML and HTTP themselves that have let us down. They stopped evolving, stopped trying to grow - and have been coasting, resting on their laurels for years. By now HTML should have evolved a cross-platform mechanism for designing rich controls and multiwindow applications. It should have moved beyond request-response and standardized a bidirectional communication mechanism so that only data need be transmitted. The overwhelming popularity of software such as Instant Messenger and Napster prove that bidirectional communication is possible, and very desirable. Instead, we have frames and a refresh tag.
I've gone on record before regarding the last mile of Web services and SOA - namely the delivery of complex services and user interfaces to end users. This is where HTML should be - it should have evolved as a mechanism to allow us not to just post text content, but to describe application function as it relates to presentation.
Admittedly, this is a complex area, one where others have tried and failed or at best partially succeeded in driving a common understanding. Nevertheless, rather than writing application code in the form of applets or ActiveX controls, would it not be easier to describe behaviors in XML and allow the next incarnation of the Browser to render application displays? If the capability existed, the tools to make application design feasible and simple would soon follow.
Instead, the browser is brain dead. Plug-ins and controls don't help, because for the most part, even though they may be high quality, they are provided by a single vendor and don't have the force and impact of an industry standard. Also, it's too much work to make the browser look like an application, and in the end, you still have to write the entire application in a way that gives developers fits - because of the constraints of the browser.
What is needed is the Post Browser, the Next Browser, whatever name you want to give to it. Sure, it can still run HTML (the old stuff), in a container that is essentially the same as today's browser. However it should be capable of complete look-and-feel customization via a standard markup language. It should provide a rich set of custom controls and be able to access the desktop (with appropriate security, of course). It should have a native, secure, bidirectional mechanism, and one that supports multiple connections so that we can access services from multiple sources in a composite application. It should also have extensible controls so that we can extend and improve the behavior of controls and applications as needed. Furthermore those extensions should become part of the next release of the standard, which shouldn't take years to come forward.
So I say "Death to the Browser" - bring on a real application platform.
|steve 08/18/07 09:54:37 AM EDT|
I couldn't agree more. DEATH TO THE BROWSER!! Developing applications for the browser is a royal pain in the a*s. Then alongs comes ajax and all it's hype. The more I looked into ajax the more I was underwhelmed. from the hype you'd think it was going to revolutionalize the browser but all it has done is prolonged its death and forced developers to learn yet another object model. don't even get me started on control positioning. you might as well write a novel using a stone tablet and chisel.
I am a full-time developer and backup network admin for a medium-sized company, and there was a time in the not-so-distant-past where I spent almost as much time "fixing" computers with malware due to browser security holes as I did in application development. It has gotten a little better thanks to better security appliances (and NO thanks too browser improvements). I am moving away from web apps as my primary development tool and back to windows clients. deployment tools are getting much better as is pushing out updates.
I think one example of a balanced mix between web and windows clients is iTunes. I don't know anything about how it was developed, but I believe this model, or some form of it, is the future.
|mathew 09/06/06 04:49:18 AM EDT|
I agree. But, the correct solution was given long back. It is the applet-servlet communication. If only, people were not so adamant not to download JDK in their system, we can have the best of both worlds, so easily. I suggest that all browsers have automatic downloading and installation of a lightweight version of JDK in the calling machine.
|Gary Cleal 11/15/05 01:18:59 PM EST|
All these comments have been made in the context of the article "Death to the Browser". Going back to the thrust of that article, what is being suggested is that the browser in holding back the development of applications that suit the needs of users. There is no argument about that, as an architect the major problem still faced by all enterprise class applications is to structure a simple, efficient and engaging interface for the users (particularly enterpise users).
And let's be clear, I did not say that MXML and XAML are superior to (xforms and AJAX), I said that they where superior to xforms and XUL. There is a way to say that, because all 4 technologies are designed to do the same thing: Define an application user interface. And as such XAML and MXML are simply more extensive, being able to define a broader set of applications than XUL or XFORMS can.
I am in no way "dis-sing" AJAX, it has its role to play and I have been using the core technology element (XMLHTTPRequest) for about 6 years (2 years after it was invented by Microsoft for OWA)
The other technologies are working at a level up from what goes on inside a browser (it's an outside-the-box kind of thing).
|Luke 11/15/05 12:14:23 PM EST|
I don't think any posts suggest AJAX is the panacea for UI. It's Really Damn Good for making better UI's on web applications, but no-one is suggesting CAD could be done in a web app with typical AJAX.
AJAX very much addresses the interface issue because of the way it improves the transport issue. The UI is about the user's experience, and AJAX really improves that experience.
There's already a pretty slick AJAX word processor built into Gmail for composing messages. And my Google personalized home page has toolbars and tabs that are "aware of each other." Not to mention I can add plugable content by throwing in my own RSS feeds, or search results.
But that's all just tit-for-tat. The point is that UI highly situational. There is no way to say MXML and XAML are "superior" to XFORMS and AJAX. It's all dependent on what one is doing.
Yes, there are applications where a web approach would butcher the user experience. But that number of applications got smaller when good AJAX design became prevelant. Ignore it at your own risk.
|SEM 11/15/05 08:25:33 AM EST|
The ultimate idea was that you didn't 'save' your work, you 'bookmarked' it. So you could shut the client down, go somewhere else, access your bookmarks and select the project, and the necessary IU and data would be loaded on your new client so you could resume your work. Not only did the data follow you around from place to place, but the application itself did too.
Obviously the scale of the work (the above is only a brief outline of my idea) kind of got to me - I knew from the start that I'd bitten off more than one person could chew. And nobody else seemed to appreciate the idea - so inevitably this 'spare time' project ran out of steam and was mothballed after a few weeks. Ever so, it was rather interesting 'messing about' just seeing what worked and what didn't. :-)
|johan witters 11/12/05 02:32:11 AM EST|
I think the author of this article has no experience with applets nor has he heard about java webstart technology.
|Gary Cleal 11/06/05 06:44:55 PM EST|
Imagine if you could!! you could "construct" or assemble applications on-the-fly completely platform independent capable of anything and tailored to the needs of the user at the specific time.
|Mike Dierken 11/06/05 06:28:09 PM EST|
All UI based applications have some sort of UI definition language. Whatever is missing from HTML is minor (given the success of the existing Web) and can be added as the need arises.
In fact, the evolution of HTML as a UI definition language is evolving, but as a widely adopted standard, that evolution is slow. Take a look at the WHAT-WG for an example of the kinds of things that will happen to HTML over the next 1-2 years: http://www.whatwg.org/
What specific part of a GUI were you unable to build within a browser when you tried?
|Gary Cleal 11/06/05 03:27:44 PM EST|
All the posts suggesting "AJAX" as the panacea miss the point. AJAX still relies on HTML, and HTML (or XHTML) is weak at defining an application user interface for all but the most simple applications.
AJAX addresses the transport issue not the interface one.
|Charles Sandberg 11/06/05 02:43:21 PM EST|
I think sean the author of this editorial, should turn off his computer and leave the IT field. Want a more client-server action? Try AJAX!
|Luke 11/02/05 09:35:04 AM EST|
Wow, talk about 2 steps backward. I don't think I've seen any good Java applet online. And I haven't seen one at all in a couple years.
AJAX is not another sail. It's a set of existing technologies that, when integrated throughout the design, create a different kind of technology altogether. It is the steam power.
XAML and MXML may be the never-ending nuclear-engine substitute, but some ships don't need all that.
And some apps just need a single auto-complete drop-down in a form. You could do it with lots of things, except maybe not an applet, and XAML might be overkill.
It's all pretty situational, so throwing at a perfectly viable and proven approach like AJAX is just plain ignorant.
|arnodenhond 11/02/05 06:20:09 AM EST|
|Gary Cleal 10/26/05 10:21:32 AM EDT|
In my first comment below I put both XUL and XFORMS behind MXML(Flex) and XAML. Both XUL and XFORMS are better than HTML, but both are very "last century" in concept. They both focus on forms and represent an application as a static collection of Interface elements.
XAML by contrast creates a framework for forms, but also includes 2d & 3d graphics rendering, animation, document flow control in a highly compact xml based syntax. XAML has been criticised for lack of CSS support, but the style model within XAML is far more powerful than CSS, again based on an XML syntax, the style element in XAML not only controls visual presentation it can also be applied to behaviours.
MXML like XAML has a richer application construct than XUL and XFORMS, but MXML uses CSS for style, and ActionScript for event handling.
All of these technologies depend on a client side rendering engine;
I gave the thumbs up to MXML because the Flash player is light and already widely distributed.
XUL and XFORMS are quite "retro" and could use an architectural and conceptual overhaul.
|Luke 10/26/05 09:42:17 AM EDT|
The possibility of rich user interfaces delivered thru the current browser exists, and it's actually the stagnation in HTTP and HTML that has enabled it.
Everyone knows how HTTP and HTML works and will always work (since they're not innovating). So working with that un-changing base means you can be creative with the rest - things like AJAX, XUL, etc. to achieve usability.
|Mark 10/26/05 08:07:09 AM EDT|
|Hamish Lawson 10/26/05 06:31:03 AM EDT|
You didn't expand on how HTTP has "let us down".
While not completely addressing your complaints about HTML, AJAX allows browsers to behave more like desktop applications. Wider adoption of XForms might also help close the gap.
|Gary Cleal 10/26/05 06:00:52 AM EDT|
I agree with Sean, the browser has always been the weak link in the overall architecture of most applications out there, good riddance!
The question is what to replace it with?
At the moment for me its a toss up between Flex and XAML, for reach, the flash viewer must be close to the most ubiquitous engine capable of rendering rich client interfaces, the downside is the designer, Macromedia have never been able to "do forms" particulary in flash, witness all the cheap flash alternatives for building flash.
|Jean-Pierre Gremaud 10/26/05 03:36:18 AM EDT|
What you are looking for is named "IBM Workplace". It's for sure one technology that will provide most of the things that you are looking for and that you can't do with a browser. Have a look at http://www-306.ibm.com/software/info/workplace/index.jsp
|Frank Smieja 10/26/05 01:42:58 AM EDT|
But isnt this what Microsoft are trying to do with .NET and the use of XML that leverages the new Windows OS for rich interfaces? Isnt it also where progress is being made via FLEX/FLASH technology? I agree - we need to get more of the fancy and rich interfaces running and built client-side, lettuing just deltas on text and data move over the wire (and i also mean both ways). The big question is though - whose standards do we follow, it is the traditional impasse in IT
|Michael Murfitt 10/25/05 11:43:19 PM EDT|
Right on! The use of a browser as a GUI front-end for any application epitomises where IT has gone off the rails. After writing one large 24/7 internet application several years ago (using Coldfusion) I vowed never to do that again, and I haven't. HTML is a stupid and moronic way to write intelligent GUIs. It does have one great asset - it creates work. And it even creates more work in the maintenance cycle.
It has never ceased to amaze me that the old VB3 runtime was smaller than any browser, and the source code of any VB3 application was smaller than the equivalent in HTML. Who were we trying to fool. Yes I know it's a little more involved than that when you throw security into the mix. But that wouldn't have been hard to overcome.
The last five years in IT have been the host of an incredible lack of innovation. Did the change of century shut down all the neurones and let the propeller-heads take control?
|Anon 10/25/05 06:37:24 PM EDT|
I didn't see any feedback on this, so thought I'd mention an example of an XML grammar for user interfaces that would use a client (whether browser or not) to manage the local experience:
|SOA Web Services Journal News Desk 10/20/05 03:27:27 PM EDT|
SOA Web Services Journal Editorial: "Death to the Browser" To paraphrase, 'I come not to praise the Browser, but to bury it.' Because the cold hard fact of application development is that the browser needs to die. Immediately. It's already caused more than enough damage. This may seem to be a harsh statement. After all, the browser was responsible for the explosion of the Internet. It serves many useful purposes and people do billions of dollars worth of business through it every year. Seemingly, I should be praising the browser, not calling for its execution.
SYS-CON Events announced today that IceWarp will exhibit at the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. IceWarp, the leader of cloud and on-premise messaging, delivers secured email, chat, documents, conferencing and collaboration to today's mobile workforce, all in one unified interface
Aug. 31, 2015 04:00 AM EDT Reads: 399
WebRTC has had a real tough three or four years, and so have those working with it. Only a few short years ago, the development world were excited about WebRTC and proclaiming how awesome it was. You might have played with the technology a couple of years ago, only to find the extra infrastructure requirements were painful to implement and poorly documented. This probably left a bitter taste in your mouth, especially when things went wrong.
Aug. 31, 2015 02:00 AM EDT Reads: 448
Too often with compelling new technologies market participants become overly enamored with that attractiveness of the technology and neglect underlying business drivers. This tendency, what some call the “newest shiny object syndrome,” is understandable given that virtually all of us are heavily engaged in technology. But it is also mistaken. Without concrete business cases driving its deployment, IoT, like many other technologies before it, will fade into obscurity.
Aug. 30, 2015 10:00 PM EDT Reads: 346
While many app developers are comfortable building apps for the smartphone, there is a whole new world out there. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Narayan Sainaney, Co-founder and CTO of Mojio, will discuss how the business case for connected car apps is growing and, with open platform companies having already done the heavy lifting, there really is no barrier to entry.
Aug. 30, 2015 05:00 PM EDT Reads: 134
As more intelligent IoT applications shift into gear, they’re merging into the ever-increasing traffic flow of the Internet. It won’t be long before we experience bottlenecks, as IoT traffic peaks during rush hours. Organizations that are unprepared will find themselves by the side of the road unable to cross back into the fast lane. As billions of new devices begin to communicate and exchange data – will your infrastructure be scalable enough to handle this new interconnected world?
Aug. 30, 2015 04:00 PM EDT Reads: 153
SYS-CON Events announced today that Micron Technology, Inc., a global leader in advanced semiconductor systems, will exhibit at the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Micron’s broad portfolio of high-performance memory technologies – including DRAM, NAND and NOR Flash – is the basis for solid state drives, modules, multichip packages and other system solutions. Backed by more than 35 years of technology leadership, Micron's memory solutions enable the world's most innovative computing, consumer,...
Aug. 30, 2015 01:30 PM EDT Reads: 223
SYS-CON Events announced today that Pythian, a global IT services company specializing in helping companies leverage disruptive technologies to optimize revenue-generating systems, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 17th Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Founded in 1997, Pythian is a global IT services company that helps companies compete by adopting disruptive technologies such as cloud, Big Data, advanced analytics, and DevOps to advance innovation and increase agility. Specializing in designing, imple...
Aug. 30, 2015 01:00 PM EDT Reads: 291
SYS-CON Events announced today that HPM Networks will exhibit at the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. For 20 years, HPM Networks has been integrating technology solutions that solve complex business challenges. HPM Networks has designed solutions for both SMB and enterprise customers throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.
Aug. 30, 2015 10:30 AM EDT Reads: 877
Consumer IoT applications provide data about the user that just doesn’t exist in traditional PC or mobile web applications. This rich data, or “context,” enables the highly personalized consumer experiences that characterize many consumer IoT apps. This same data is also providing brands with unprecedented insight into how their connected products are being used, while, at the same time, powering highly targeted engagement and marketing opportunities. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Nathan Treloar, President and COO of Bebaio, will explore examples of brands transforming their businesses by t...
Aug. 30, 2015 10:15 AM EDT Reads: 228
Through WebRTC, audio and video communications are being embedded more easily than ever into applications, helping carriers, enterprises and independent software vendors deliver greater functionality to their end users. With today’s business world increasingly focused on outcomes, users’ growing calls for ease of use, and businesses craving smarter, tighter integration, what’s the next step in delivering a richer, more immersive experience? That richer, more fully integrated experience comes about through a Communications Platform as a Service which allows for messaging, screen sharing, video...
Aug. 30, 2015 09:15 AM EDT Reads: 622
With the proliferation of connected devices underpinning new Internet of Things systems, Brandon Schulz, Director of Luxoft IoT – Retail, will be looking at the transformation of the retail customer experience in brick and mortar stores in his session at @ThingsExpo. Questions he will address include: Will beacons drop to the wayside like QR codes, or be a proximity-based profit driver? How will the customer experience change in stores of all types when everything can be instrumented and analyzed? As an area of investment, how might a retail company move towards an innovation methodolo...
Aug. 30, 2015 09:15 AM EDT Reads: 442
The Internet of Things (IoT) is about the digitization of physical assets including sensors, devices, machines, gateways, and the network. It creates possibilities for significant value creation and new revenue generating business models via data democratization and ubiquitous analytics across IoT networks. The explosion of data in all forms in IoT requires a more robust and broader lens in order to enable smarter timely actions and better outcomes. Business operations become the key driver of IoT applications and projects. Business operations, IT, and data scientists need advanced analytics t...
Aug. 30, 2015 08:30 AM EDT Reads: 396
A producer of the first smartphones and tablets, presenter Lee M. Williams will talk about how he is now applying his experience in mobile technology to the design and development of the next generation of Environmental and Sustainability Services at ETwater. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Lee Williams, COO of ETwater, will talk about how he is now applying his experience in mobile technology to the design and development of the next generation of Environmental and Sustainability Services at ETwater.
Aug. 30, 2015 07:00 AM EDT Reads: 120
As more and more data is generated from a variety of connected devices, the need to get insights from this data and predict future behavior and trends is increasingly essential for businesses. Real-time stream processing is needed in a variety of different industries such as Manufacturing, Oil and Gas, Automobile, Finance, Online Retail, Smart Grids, and Healthcare. Azure Stream Analytics is a fully managed distributed stream computation service that provides low latency, scalable processing of streaming data in the cloud with an enterprise grade SLA. It features built-in integration with Azur...
Aug. 28, 2015 07:45 PM EDT Reads: 210
Akana has announced the availability of the new Akana Healthcare Solution. The API-driven solution helps healthcare organizations accelerate their transition to being secure, digitally interoperable businesses. It leverages the Health Level Seven International Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (HL7 FHIR) standard to enable broader business use of medical data. Akana developed the Healthcare Solution in response to healthcare businesses that want to increase electronic, multi-device access to health records while reducing operating costs and complying with government regulations.
Aug. 26, 2015 07:00 AM EDT Reads: 132
For IoT to grow as quickly as analyst firms’ project, a lot is going to fall on developers to quickly bring applications to market. But the lack of a standard development platform threatens to slow growth and make application development more time consuming and costly, much like we’ve seen in the mobile space. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mike Weiner, Product Manager of the Omega DevCloud with KORE Telematics Inc., discussed the evolving requirements for developers as IoT matures and conducted a live demonstration of how quickly application development can happen when the need to comply wit...
Aug. 2, 2015 11:15 AM EDT Reads: 553
The Internet of Everything (IoE) brings together people, process, data and things to make networked connections more relevant and valuable than ever before – transforming information into knowledge and knowledge into wisdom. IoE creates new capabilities, richer experiences, and unprecedented opportunities to improve business and government operations, decision making and mission support capabilities.
Aug. 1, 2015 10:00 AM EDT Reads: 479
Explosive growth in connected devices. Enormous amounts of data for collection and analysis. Critical use of data for split-second decision making and actionable information. All three are factors in making the Internet of Things a reality. Yet, any one factor would have an IT organization pondering its infrastructure strategy. How should your organization enhance its IT framework to enable an Internet of Things implementation? In his session at @ThingsExpo, James Kirkland, Red Hat's Chief Architect for the Internet of Things and Intelligent Systems, described how to revolutionize your archit...
Jul. 30, 2015 07:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,565
MuleSoft has announced the findings of its 2015 Connectivity Benchmark Report on the adoption and business impact of APIs. The findings suggest traditional businesses are quickly evolving into "composable enterprises" built out of hundreds of connected software services, applications and devices. Most are embracing the Internet of Things (IoT) and microservices technologies like Docker. A majority are integrating wearables, like smart watches, and more than half plan to generate revenue with APIs within the next year.
Jul. 30, 2015 02:30 PM EDT Reads: 279
Growth hacking is common for startups to make unheard-of progress in building their business. Career Hacks can help Geek Girls and those who support them (yes, that's you too, Dad!) to excel in this typically male-dominated world. Get ready to learn the facts: Is there a bias against women in the tech / developer communities? Why are women 50% of the workforce, but hold only 24% of the STEM or IT positions? Some beginnings of what to do about it! In her Opening Keynote at 16th Cloud Expo, Sandy Carter, IBM General Manager Cloud Ecosystem and Developers, and a Social Business Evangelist, d...
Jul. 30, 2015 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,230