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"The WebApp is Dead, Long Live Avalon!"

Ok this is not an actual quote but it's certainly what's implied in this interview with Chris Anderson, one of the architects on Microsoft's Avalon team:

http://www.theserverside.net/talks/videos/ChrisAnderson/interview.tss?bandwidth=dsl

He subtely portrays bad Web UI design as an inherent limitation of the thin-clien model.  And he completely sidesteps the question about the cross-platform, access-anywhere reach of WebApps.  I think it's especially ironic that he picked Outlook Web Access vs. Outlook to cite a point for rich clients because several users at my work have dumped Outlook in favor of OWA.  I have nothing against rich clients myself, I know there's always gonna be a place for them, but to say that Amazon and Expedia are best suited as rich client apps, I think that's taking it a step too far.  Is this the start of a new MS FUD campaign against WebApps to ramp up support for Avalon/XAML/Longhorn?  And where does that leave ASP.NET developers?
Adham Shaaban
Monday, April 11, 2005
 
 
It's a direct attack on Google.  Make no doubt about it, Google is the single largest threat to MS right now, and they are trying to undermine what Google is and will be doing.  It's fire and motion for an OS that isn't even close to being released yet.
Aaron F Stanton Send private email
Monday, April 11, 2005
 
 
I want a great rich internet user experience on the web without scripting my life away that is secure and easy to work with  :)

so, if that is Avalon, let's try it  :)
CellPhoneGames
Monday, April 11, 2005
 
 
I think everyone wants that, CellPhoneGames. However, it is unlikely to materialize any time soon.

The whole browser-based applications model is "broken", if you want all those things.

Don't get me wrong, I've "bet the farm" on doing non-trivial web applications for business clients, using ASP.NET, etc, so I really want it to work. I gave up on Windows apps years ago and don't regret that decision.

I love ASP.NET and there isn't much you can't do that a native Windows application could do. Obviously, I am talking about business applications here. I'm not talking about replacing PhotoShop with an ASP.NET application.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005
 
 
Would a programming IDE be something that could make a good web app?
Aaron F Stanton Send private email
Tuesday, April 12, 2005
 
 
Yes.  It really boils down to just entering and validating text, which a web app can definitely handle.  Then the server compiles or interprets the code for you to debug.  It means individual developers wouldn't need big expensive machines to be able to compile and test their work.  The server would handle that part.
Joel Coehoorn
Tuesday, April 12, 2005
 
 
And then deliver a binary as a download.  Interesting.
Aaron F Stanton Send private email
Tuesday, April 12, 2005
 
 
"It means individual developers wouldn't need big expensive machines"

You mean you could save a whopping 100$ on RAM per desktop, and get them all on a super slow, super expensive shared big iron?
Just me (Sir to you) Send private email
Tuesday, April 12, 2005
 
 
Joel Coehoorn:

No thanks.  You can keep that web IDE.
cipher
Tuesday, April 12, 2005
 
 
Why?
Aaron F Stanton Send private email
Tuesday, April 12, 2005
 
 
Re: Why?

To be fair, if it worked well I would certainly consider it.  However, it has been my experience that most highly interactive web applications suck when compared to their desktop counterparts.  The main benefit of web apps is the ease of deployment.  Some will argue platform independence as well, but this can be a bug pain in the ass when trying to build a fully function complex app.  You can do some cool things will some creative thinking and lots of hard work, but you are still limited.

How do you deal with the latency differences between desktop apps and web apps?
cipher
Tuesday, April 12, 2005
 
 
Why run a IDE on the server?

That is how I view it - maybe if you have terminals ?  :)
IDontKnow
Tuesday, April 12, 2005
 
 
Wow!  I should proof read before submitting.
cipher
Wednesday, April 13, 2005
 
 
"Yes.  It really boils down to just entering and validating text, which a web app can definitely handle.  "

It also may require Intellisense, drag and drop of controls, very complex search and replace, and many more things that would be a complete pain in the butt to do on a web server. Doable, but not nearly as effective as a true IDE.

There will always be some types of apps that just work best as a true client application.
matt
Wednesday, April 13, 2005
 
 
Nobody's ever going to make me write program source code in a textarea.

A decent text editor is the absolute most important component of any development environment, and I don't see anyone delivering that over the web.
comp.lang.c refugee
Thursday, April 14, 2005
 
 
I think doing a Web-based IDE is the extreme opposite of what I was talking about in my original post.  My main issue with Chris Anderson's interview is that he made it sound like there was no future for rich WebApps anymore, essentially that anything more invovlved than a simple representation of static data should be made into a rich (preferably Avalon-based ;) client. Doing a Web-based IDE would be the extreme end of that position.  There's always going to be a place and need for both paradigms.  So Avalon or not, the rich browser-based WebApp is not going away anytime soon.  If anything, sites like gmail and maps.google.com show that this is an area that still has a lot of potential.
Adham Shaaban
Thursday, April 14, 2005
 
 
". . . the rich browser-based WebApp is not going away anytime soon."

Hmm, I didn't realize it was even here yet.  ;)
Herbert Sitz Send private email
Thursday, April 14, 2005
 
 
There are few technical reasons these days for the lack of visible rich web applications...

http://www.faser.net/mab/remote.cfm

...only political ones. Our favourite monopolist is more than happy to let their own browser wither away as a buggy old HTML viewer while they "bet the farm on the rich client".

Bastards :-(
Lurkio Send private email
Friday, April 15, 2005
 
 
Is adding more complexity the goal?  If so, I don't like it.

Some of these apps get so complex and unfriendly - I opt more for simply web interfaces.

I think web apps needs to be used appropriately, not as thick client replacements.
IDontKnow
Sunday, April 17, 2005
 
 
What you want with Avalon you got with Mac OS X. Pick up Java or Objective C and you are ducky. If Avalon took vector-based intrinsics as seriously as Mac OS X they might get a convert or two from the printing industry. Placing your Windows Forms canvas on Direct 3D does seems to be for forward-thinking than even Apple though, but it's not a step the XWindow or Mac OS X team would worry about.
Li-fan Chen Send private email
Saturday, April 23, 2005
 
 
If your target market is "The World is Not Enough", well then you are stuck with GUIs that painfully resembles Wizards and Web forms. There's probably only 0.0001% (15,000) of the computer-savvy world (1.25-1.5 billion?) computing community who would know what to do with a 3D pointing device like in the the Minority Report. Sure, there are millions who can remember short-cuts through rote memory but the final analysis will always say Wizards and IE for the truly unguided. The rest of the world couldn't do a thing without a Step-by-Step book (Microsoft Press), and even then they'll probably fall asleep reading the thing.

The only way to crack that cognitive wall on complex GUIs is easy absorbsion of information, if Microsoft packs enough truly helpful video tutorials--they'll have a chance.

Anyway point is enterprise programmers are too busy building custom software [in wizards patterns] in assembly line fashion and the dynamic nature of business flows will forever destroy any chance at creating complicated GUIs that uses even 10% of what Avalon has to offer. The prototype is always the dog food, because there's not enough coders around to code everything everyone wants.

I would still look to ultra high level programming languages to make the final difference. If Microsoft bundles such a software to the Avalon religion (as VB1 did for Windows 1&2) they might have a snow-flake's chance in making it stick.
Li-fan Chen Send private email
Saturday, April 23, 2005
 
 
s/15,000/1500/g
Li-fan Chen Send private email
Saturday, April 23, 2005
 
 
"...it has been my experience that most highly interactive web applications suck when compared to their desktop counterparts."

That's been my experience too, but not because the technology isn't there. Whether its a lack of innovative developers or innovative managers--or whether there's little business advantage in being innovative anymore-- it's just not happening as much as it should.

For all the wonderful features that Google has-- none of them are light-years ahead-- even the coolest ones like maps.google.com has been around for years, and just never used. Why couldn't mapquest or maps.yahoo.com do it?

Whether the future of applications is on the desktop, the web, or in a .NETish desktop/web hybrid remains to be seen. Ideally, one should be designing web applications just like they design desktop applications. Compile to Web App, Compile to Desktop App. That's it. I think we're still a few generations short of this, but why should I care about ServletContexts and Cookies when writing a web application? The "web" will eventually just be an abstraction layer. Start--Run--app://microsoft.com/MicrosoftWord15.0/ -- Done.
Mike Send private email
Monday, April 25, 2005
 
 

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