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Andy Brice
Successful Software

Doug Nebeker ("Doug")

Jonathan Matthews
Creator of DeepTrawl, CloudTrawl, and LeapDoc

Nicholas Hebb
BreezeTree Software

Bob Walsh
host, Startup Success Podcast author of The Web Startup Success Guide and Micro-ISV: From Vision To Reality

Patrick McKenzie
Bingo Card Creator

Is it feasible to webify my desktop apps?

I would love to offer my Windows Desktop Applications as web applications. But they involve huge customer data files that would have to be uploaded, processed and then downloaded.  One app currently uses asyncronous reading of the files so the user can continue interacting while it is being read. They also have complex, tabbed user interfaces with tons of textbox validation and cross-dependencies between textbox values. From what I have read these are showstoppers for effective web apps. What do you folks think?
Bill Anonomist Send private email
Friday, June 13, 2014
Whenever I see a successful application that wants to have a web version I always wonder why. I think a lot of people want a web app but don't think about should there be a web app.

What current problem are users having or potential users having that a web version will solve?
Will a web version attract add to the existing customer base or start a new different customer base?
If it's based from a desktop app, will the desktop version still be needed after the web version is released?
Is the web version replacing or augmenting the desktop app?
Will existing users be using the web app? If so will it be the same machine, mobile device, or other desktops?
Is the data for the desktop apps from a central data source or local files?
How resource intensive is the desktop application?

I believe if you need to have a web presence for a desktop app, then have a website. Only have a web app if it's feasible for your users to be able to just hop on any machine, fire the browser, perform the task (looking up information, printing something out)  and close. Or if all your data is database driven and controlled by the application. Where the user never needs to concern themselves with the actual storage mechanism of there data. They just open the app (log in if needed) and everything is there.
TrippinOnIT Send private email
Friday, June 13, 2014

My motives are partly selfish. no download file or installation problems. No piracy -I know some customers buy one license and install on multiple machines. But it may appeal customers that do not have huge data files and those that have only a one-time or very short term need so I could offer a pricing scheme to meet their needs.
Bill Anonomist Send private email
Friday, June 13, 2014
Then it looks like you may have also thought of some strategic reasons for having a web version that could benefit you and the users.

Ease of installation.  (For you and the user), Limited need for the application. I'd limit the file size that can be uploaded because this will give an incentive to buying the desktop app, save you bandwidth/storage, and reduce problems with people not knowing just how slow an upload of a large file can be compared to downloading. Of course with limited means cheaper to most so you could do a subscription with the web app.
TrippinOnIT Send private email
Friday, June 13, 2014
<< I'd limit the file size that can be uploaded >>

good point. there's clearly lots to think about before jumping in. Another big issue is the technology to apply. Currently using .NET and asp.net for my website. I read some articles about running the desktop as is:
but it has some pitfalls. If I decide to proceed, I will post another question regarding what technologies folks are using.
Bill Anonomist Send private email
Friday, June 13, 2014
Nothing that you've mentioned specifically precludes a web application.

When you say "huge" files, do you mean multi-gigabyte? That could cause some issues with connectivity, storage and bandwidth costs, but still the advantages to you might make it worthwhile.
Scorpio Send private email
Saturday, June 14, 2014
I'd say it really depends on how your current desktop application is designed. If it is client-server and most of the business logic is on the server then it may be relatively straight-forward (depending on the server API). If the data/logic/UI are tied up in knots, then it could be a nightmare.

Ewan McNab Send private email
Saturday, June 14, 2014
>no download file or installation problems.

The grass is always greener on the other. But there are down sides to web apps as well:
Andy Brice Send private email
Monday, June 16, 2014
If the app is written in C/C++, you can always look into using (p)nacl  for Chrome or asm.js for FireFox.

It's not ideal as (p)nacl would require your users to use the latest Chrome version, but it does give you a native performance inside the browser and a few APIs that go beyond what you can do with JavaScript.
Krzysztof Kowalczyk Send private email
Monday, June 16, 2014

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