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My usual Swing vs web two cent blah blah's

Posted by evanx on July 18, 2007 at 1:50 PM PDT

In The future of Windows should be open source, the author suggests
that "the desktop is becoming obsolete." This always gets my back up! (If you ever want to get a rise out of me, just say exactly that!) My comment was a regurgitation of what i always say on this subject, which is getting so frikkin boring, that i'm boring myself to tears, but since i wrote such a long comment, i thought i would cut and post it, and here it is again. I know, gutting.

iTunes is a desktop/internet app. Expect to see more such apps, i.e. "internet apps" which are also "desktop apps" - that run outside the browser rather than within it. If you think it's possible to implement the rich Office experience using HTML/Ajax... you're stupid, no offense ;) What about an IDE as an ajax web app - ouch!

One can try to emulate desktop apps with web apps, but you'll never get a richer, more responsive user experience, with the same multitude of features - and of course OpenOffice, Kontact et al are improving all the time. And broadband means... click-and-run (and auto-update). Download times are a rapidly diminishing concern...

We have great opensource desktop software like OpenOffice, KDE, GNOME and all their apps - to suggest that we are just going to throw all that away and be left with a single app, the web-browser, as a single full-screen window, with all our apps running inside it, i.e. supplant the likes of KDE and GNOME with just Firefox on X, is just silly.

And why even try to supplant great opensource apps with half-baked web apps full of ads?! Rather make the opensource apps like OpenOffice more "webby." Cos why can't apps run outside the browser? Why does everything have to run inside the browser - including Office, email et al - that's just silly!

The web browser (eg. Firefox) will never match the abilities of the OS/desktop (eg. Linux/KDE/GNOME) in terms of managing resources, processes, application windows, eg. tabbing, switching, minimising, exposing, etcetera, etcetera. Why try to turn a cute 5Mb browser into the 100Mb gorilla of a full-blown graphical desktop environment, when the likes of KDE and GNOME exist?

No one will ever again develop a graphical desktop environment, from scratch, that can catch up to KDE and GNOME, or would want to... MacOSX is NextStep legacy underneath, and Windows is also legacy proprietary rubbish underneath.

So to summarise, rather than desktop apps going away, desktop apps will become more leveraging of the internet and leveragable via the internet, eg. launch from the internet, persist settings et al to the internet eg. using REST, ie. be everything that is good about web apps. Desktops apps already auto-update from the internet which you might have noticed, so... onward and upward!

PS. With the advent of internet retailing, eg. and the like, people started falling over themselves saying, "This is the future! Bricks-and-mortar retailers will surely all close down!?" Well they didn't. They took what was good about the internet, and added it to what they already had, which was good, and they got better all around. I'll warrant it's gonna be the same with the desktop. Life goes on much as before, just better.

PS. So I think the category "web apps" should make space to include both "browser apps" as well as "webby desktop apps" eg. Webstart Swing apps that use webservices, and not the local filesystem (except for caching and cookies, like a browser).

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