|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.
Cultural, regulatory, environmental, political and economic (CREPE) conditions over the past decade are creating cross-industry solution spaces that require processes and technologies from both the Internet of Things (IoT), and Data Management and Analytics (DMA). These solution spaces are evolving into Sensor Analytics Ecosystems (SAE) that represent significant new opportunities for organizations of all types. Public Utilities throughout the world, providing electricity, natural gas and water, are pursuing SmartGrid initiatives that represent one of the more mature examples of SAE. We have s...
Nov. 27, 2014 04:00 PM EST Reads: 1,270
The security devil is always in the details of the attack: the ones you've endured, the ones you prepare yourself to fend off, and the ones that, you fear, will catch you completely unaware and defenseless. The Internet of Things (IoT) is nothing if not an endless proliferation of details. It's the vision of a world in which continuous Internet connectivity and addressability is embedded into a growing range of human artifacts, into the natural world, and even into our smartphones, appliances, and physical persons. In the IoT vision, every new "thing" - sensor, actuator, data source, data con...
Nov. 27, 2014 04:00 PM EST Reads: 1,619
The Internet of Things is tied together with a thin strand that is known as time. Coincidentally, at the core of nearly all data analytics is a timestamp. When working with time series data there are a few core principles that everyone should consider, especially across datasets where time is the common boundary. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Scott, Director of Enterprise Strategy & Architecture at MapR Technologies, discussed single-value, geo-spatial, and log time series data. By focusing on enterprise applications and the data center, he will use OpenTSDB as an example t...
Nov. 27, 2014 03:00 PM EST Reads: 1,453
How do APIs and IoT relate? The answer is not as simple as merely adding an API on top of a dumb device, but rather about understanding the architectural patterns for implementing an IoT fabric. There are typically two or three trends: Exposing the device to a management framework Exposing that management framework to a business centric logic Exposing that business layer and data to end users. This last trend is the IoT stack, which involves a new shift in the separation of what stuff happens, where data lives and where the interface lies. For instance, it's a mix of architectural styles ...
Nov. 27, 2014 03:00 PM EST Reads: 1,285
The 3rd International Internet of @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that its Call for Papers is now open. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the biggest idea since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago.
Nov. 27, 2014 03:00 PM EST Reads: 978
An entirely new security model is needed for the Internet of Things, or is it? Can we save some old and tested controls for this new and different environment? In his session at @ThingsExpo, New York's at the Javits Center, Davi Ottenheimer, EMC Senior Director of Trust, reviewed hands-on lessons with IoT devices and reveal a new risk balance you might not expect. Davi Ottenheimer, EMC Senior Director of Trust, has more than nineteen years' experience managing global security operations and assessments, including a decade of leading incident response and digital forensics. He is co-author of t...
Nov. 27, 2014 01:00 PM EST Reads: 1,652
The Internet of Things will greatly expand the opportunities for data collection and new business models driven off of that data. In her session at @ThingsExpo, Esmeralda Swartz, CMO of MetraTech, discussed how for this to be effective you not only need to have infrastructure and operational models capable of utilizing this new phenomenon, but increasingly service providers will need to convince a skeptical public to participate. Get ready to show them the money!
Nov. 27, 2014 11:00 AM EST Reads: 1,266
The Internet of Things will put IT to its ultimate test by creating infinite new opportunities to digitize products and services, generate and analyze new data to improve customer satisfaction, and discover new ways to gain a competitive advantage across nearly every industry. In order to help corporate business units to capitalize on the rapidly evolving IoT opportunities, IT must stand up to a new set of challenges. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jeff Kaplan, Managing Director of THINKstrategies, will examine why IT must finally fulfill its role in support of its SBUs or face a new round of...
Nov. 27, 2014 10:00 AM EST Reads: 1,215
One of the biggest challenges when developing connected devices is identifying user value and delivering it through successful user experiences. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Mike Kuniavsky, Principal Scientist, Innovation Services at PARC, described an IoT-specific approach to user experience design that combines approaches from interaction design, industrial design and service design to create experiences that go beyond simple connected gadgets to create lasting, multi-device experiences grounded in people's real needs and desires.
Nov. 27, 2014 08:00 AM EST Reads: 1,222
Enthusiasm for the Internet of Things has reached an all-time high. In 2013 alone, venture capitalists spent more than $1 billion dollars investing in the IoT space. With "smart" appliances and devices, IoT covers wearable smart devices, cloud services to hardware companies. Nest, a Google company, detects temperatures inside homes and automatically adjusts it by tracking its user's habit. These technologies are quickly developing and with it come challenges such as bridging infrastructure gaps, abiding by privacy concerns and making the concept a reality. These challenges can't be addressed w...
Nov. 27, 2014 07:45 AM EST Reads: 1,504
The Domain Name Service (DNS) is one of the most important components in networking infrastructure, enabling users and services to access applications by translating URLs (names) into IP addresses (numbers). Because every icon and URL and all embedded content on a website requires a DNS lookup loading complex sites necessitates hundreds of DNS queries. In addition, as more internet-enabled ‘Things' get connected, people will rely on DNS to name and find their fridges, toasters and toilets. According to a recent IDG Research Services Survey this rate of traffic will only grow. What's driving t...
Nov. 27, 2014 07:00 AM EST Reads: 1,480
Scott Jenson leads a project called The Physical Web within the Chrome team at Google. Project members are working to take the scalability and openness of the web and use it to talk to the exponentially exploding range of smart devices. Nearly every company today working on the IoT comes up with the same basic solution: use my server and you'll be fine. But if we really believe there will be trillions of these devices, that just can't scale. We need a system that is open a scalable and by using the URL as a basic building block, we open this up and get the same resilience that the web enjoys.
Nov. 27, 2014 06:45 AM EST Reads: 1,373
Connected devices and the Internet of Things are getting significant momentum in 2014. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Hunter, Chief Scientist & Technology Evangelist at Greenwave Systems, examined three key elements that together will drive mass adoption of the IoT before the end of 2015. The first element is the recent advent of robust open source protocols (like AllJoyn and WebRTC) that facilitate M2M communication. The second is broad availability of flexible, cost-effective storage designed to handle the massive surge in back-end data in a world where timely analytics is e...
Nov. 27, 2014 06:45 AM EST Reads: 1,310
We are reaching the end of the beginning with WebRTC, and real systems using this technology have begun to appear. One challenge that faces every WebRTC deployment (in some form or another) is identity management. For example, if you have an existing service – possibly built on a variety of different PaaS/SaaS offerings – and you want to add real-time communications you are faced with a challenge relating to user management, authentication, authorization, and validation. Service providers will want to use their existing identities, but these will have credentials already that are (hopefully) i...
Nov. 27, 2014 04:00 AM EST Reads: 1,213
"Matrix is an ambitious open standard and implementation that's set up to break down the fragmentation problems that exist in IP messaging and VoIP communication," explained John Woolf, Technical Evangelist at Matrix, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Nov. 27, 2014 04:00 AM EST Reads: 1,165
P2P RTC will impact the landscape of communications, shifting from traditional telephony style communications models to OTT (Over-The-Top) cloud assisted & PaaS (Platform as a Service) communication services. The P2P shift will impact many areas of our lives, from mobile communication, human interactive web services, RTC and telephony infrastructure, user federation, security and privacy implications, business costs, and scalability. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Robin Raymond, Chief Architect at Hookflash, will walk through the shifting landscape of traditional telephone and voice services ...
Nov. 26, 2014 02:00 PM EST Reads: 1,607
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 Internet of @ThingsExpo, James Kirkland, Chief Architect for the Internet of Things and Intelligent Systems at Red Hat, described how to revolutioniz...
Nov. 24, 2014 07:00 PM EST Reads: 1,715
Bit6 today issued a challenge to the technology community implementing Web Real Time Communication (WebRTC). To leap beyond WebRTC’s significant limitations and fully leverage its underlying value to accelerate innovation, application developers need to consider the entire communications ecosystem.
Nov. 24, 2014 12:00 PM EST Reads: 1,615
The definition of IoT is not new, in fact it’s been around for over a decade. What has changed is the public's awareness that the technology we use on a daily basis has caught up on the vision of an always on, always connected world. If you look into the details of what comprises the IoT, you’ll see that it includes everything from cloud computing, Big Data analytics, “Things,” Web communication, applications, network, storage, etc. It is essentially including everything connected online from hardware to software, or as we like to say, it’s an Internet of many different things. The difference ...
Nov. 24, 2014 11:00 AM EST Reads: 1,738
Cloud Expo 2014 TV commercials will feature @ThingsExpo, which was launched in June, 2014 at New York City's Javits Center as the largest 'Internet of Things' event in the world.
Nov. 24, 2014 09:00 AM EST Reads: 1,776