[thelist] Spolsky: things you can't do really well in a web application

Mike Migurski mike-evolt at teczno.com
Thu Jun 17 12:27:13 CDT 2004

> Here are a few examples of things you can't really do well in a web
> application:
> 1. Create a fast drawing program
> 2. Build a real-time spell checker with wavy red underlines
> 3. Warn users that they are going to lose their work if they hit the
> close box of the browser
> 4. Update a small part of the display based on a change that the user
> makes
> without a full roundtrip to the server
> 5. Create a fast keyboard-driven interface that doesn't require the
> mouse
> 6. Let people continue working when they are not connected to the
> Internet
> ======================================
> So, I'm curious. Some of 'em seem, conceptually, simple. Spell checker?
> Keyboard driven interface? I appreciate the qualifier 'well' in his
> comment, but is this really accurate, right now today?

Note that he does qualify this statement in the article by saying that
creative use of javascript is closing this gap:

	These are not all big issues. Some of them will be solved very
	soon by witty Javascript developers. Two new web applications,
	Gmail and Oddpost, both email apps, do a really decent job of
	working around or completely solving some of these issues. And
	users don't seem to care about the little UI glitches and slowness
	of web interfaces. Almost all the normal people I know are
	perfectly happy with web-based email, for some reason, no matter
	how much I try to convince them that the rich client is, uh,
		-- http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/APIWar.html

It's a great read, if you haven't seen it - I haven't seen the URL in this
thread, so there it is. Of interest to IE watchers wonder WTF it's going
to support CSS or the DOM correctly, is this conjecture:

	So the Web user interface is about 80% there, and even without new
	web browsers we can probably get 95% there. This is Good Enough
	for most people and it's certainly good enough for developers, who
	have voted to develop almost every significant new application as
	a web application.

	Which means, suddenly, Microsoft's API doesn't matter so much. Web
	applications don't require Windows.

	It's not that Microsoft didn't notice this was happening. Of
	course they did, and when the implications became clear, they
	slammed on the brakes.  Promising new technologies like HTAs and
	DHTML were stopped in their tracks. The Internet Explorer team
	seems to have disappeared; they have been completely missing in
	action for several years. There's no way Microsoft is going to
	allow DHTML to get any better than it already is:  it's just too
	dangerous to their core business, the rich client.

On commenter on slashdot made the point that the above paragraph
essentially pegs Mozilla (and associated efforts like XUL) as the single
most important effort in Open Source, today.

michal migurski- contact info and pgp key:
sf/ca            http://mike.teczno.com/contact.html

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