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Abandon the browser?

If the browser is so bad how come Fog Greek's FogBugz is browser based, and their flagship product CityDesk is really just an editor to make content for browsers?

Matthew Lock
Thursday, November 15, 2001

I don't think Joel ever said that browsers are bad, just made the point that there are some things that can be done in an app that can be done in the browser, and I aggree with him.

Ben R
Thursday, November 15, 2001

Opp's, that should be can't be done in the browser.

Ben R
Thursday, November 15, 2001

I should say "change everything" in the browser. current browser are horrible application support, I clearly agree with this Joel's statement (made before him by people like Jeff Raskin or Bruce Tognazzini, for the same reasons).

I'm not a developper (only a poor lonesome webmaster) but, as a basic user,  I often dream of a "void-windowed" web browser, with full support of OS features like cut-and paste, drag and drop, and the ability to download true authoring applications  interfaces from servers. At the first use of the new app, you should download an interface from the server, but these UI elements would be stored on your disk, so at the second time, ....

the default interface could be the browser one, but the interface would change every time your app changes (I should say "every time your user's goals change")

reinventing client server ;-) ?

It supposes that these new type of interfaces are light, and that the OS or the app knows how to balance computing  power between the users desktop and the server. huuuuh... IMHO, it supposes that browse and OS are completely integrated, too. I think, the Browser should be  the desktop, and vice-versa.

So we could  hope true "high level authoring interfaces", through this "new generation" browser, and  build new collective application experiences.

Is that realistic in a few years ? Or do these end users definitely have stupid  wishes ? who could do that if microsoft doesn't ?

Is there another way to mix the advantages of browser apps (low cost of deployement, easy maintain of server-based apps), and CS apps (true good authoring interfaces made possible) ?

that's all for today.

Vincent Benard
Friday, November 16, 2001

Quote from Vincent:
---------------------------------------------------------
Is there another way to mix the advantages of browser apps (low cost of deployement, easy maintain of server-based apps), and CS apps (true good authoring interfaces made possible) ?
---------------------------------------------------------

I think this is what Microsoft are hoping to achieve with .Net.

Ged Byrne
Friday, November 16, 2001

OK, Ged,

but as I am not a software develloper, I can't figure what .Net is. (I'm definitely stupid, so)

What is .Net bringing to us (in terms I could understand) to make this possible ?

thank you.

Vincent Benard
Friday, November 16, 2001

> What is .Net bringing to us (in terms I could understand)
> to make this possible ?

- Supported languages compile to IL (intermediate language), which is similar to Java bytecode in that it can run on different systems that have a translator, as long as the programmer doesn't use any system-specific extensions. 

- Passport is apparently a way to create unique accounts, so user tracking through the net is simpler.  Ideally, people don't have to remember passwords for every site they visit, or worry about entering credit cards to every new site.

So the point of .Net in this case is to iron over the differences between an individual's system and the internet.  There still is a difference, but it's not so jarring to the developer, because MS tries to provide all these nice services and APIs that do a lot of work.

As far as I can tell, there is no hard definition of .Net, except as something that futhers MS' goals while other companies are in the financial dumps.  I actually think it's nebulous just to spur creativity.

forgotten gentleman
Friday, November 16, 2001

Vincent wrote:

"I'm not a developper (only a poor lonesome webmaster) but, as a basic user, I often dream of a "void-windowed" web browser, with full support of OS features like cut-and paste, drag and drop, and the ability to download true authoring applications interfaces from servers"

Hm. Well, OmniWeb on OS X has full cut'n'paste, and drag-out. And the OS X spell checker works with web page text editors like this one. Other system services also work with content in the web page. (_Selecting_ content can be a little difficult, of course.)

Downloading interfaces could be tricky... Perhaps something flash-based could be integrated.

Jonathan Hendry
Friday, November 16, 2001

Quote from Jed (who quoted Vincent)
************************************
Quote from Vincent:
---------------------------------------------------------
Is there another way to mix the advantages of browser apps (low cost of deployement, easy maintain of server-based apps), and CS apps (true good authoring interfaces made possible) ?
---------------------------------------------------------

I think this is what Microsoft are hoping to achieve with .Net.
************************************

.Net doesn't change anything about the behavior or capabilities of browsers (that would require new browsers), it simply matures the process of developing web application (in principle, making it more like VB development).

Tom
Friday, November 16, 2001

  Actually, .NET does change the browser behavior remarkably. Today, you can make web pages more dynamic with embed Java applets (which are very limited in functionality) or ActiveX controls (which have no limits, but require an all-or-nothing security model--you get a "Do you trust this control?" button, but there's no way to tell what the control would do if you said yes).
  One think .NET does is to allow "capability-based security"--J2EE has something similar except Java's version is so complicated no one can figure it out. The .NET version works out of the box--any code installed on the local machine can do anything, any code downloaded from the internet has these limited permissions (ie, can't read/write to the local hard drive), any code from a trusted internet site has these permissions, etc. Of course, it's all configurable by the user, so if you wanted to .
  So I could define a standard web-page GUI, but whenever something gets difficult from a UI point-of-view (as Joel points out, if you want menus or something), then you just click on the web page's "Click Here For A Full Editor Window" button, and then when the user clicks on that, the app is downloaded and run. No need to install or anything.  The web page has basically become a quick N easy means for deploying your standard Windows app. Best of both worlds--you get all the UI niceties that you can't get with a browser, you get the ubiquity of running your application from any computer in the world, and you don't have to worry about the security risks that ActiveX controls currently present.
  Also, existing web pages will be converted into web services that can be reused by other apps. For instance, now if I run the Football.com website, I'd like to present my visitors a list of football books from Amazon. Right now, I have to manually query Amazon for a list of books, manually list those books on my website, and hope that Amazon doesn't change their list. But if the web site is merely a software component just like any other, then my web page can send a query to Amazon's web service asking for all their football books, then the list will be sent back to me, my Football.com web page can dynamically build itself listing the books from Amazon, and the list of upcoming games from the NFL.com web service, and my own custom content, etc.
  Joel's exactly right that browser based interfaces are clunky and always will be, but there's neat stuff coming down the pike to get around the problem in other ways.

Darin Dillon
Saturday, November 17, 2001

When someone says that the browser is very limited, that httpd is very basic, and html too simple, he forgets that the great growth of the web was due to the fact that : html is very simple so that anybody could build a web page, http is very robust so that this protocol scaled well to the growth of the web, and most important a browser is... a BROWSER.

It is just an application to browse web pages and documents.
And it does it quite well - you have browsers on every plateform and you can read any html document stored anywhere.

We know that the browser is not the perfect app to do everything because it has a weak UI (*that's its strength*) and perverting its original concept leads to frustration for the users and for developers.

Accept the browser for its strength and use it when appropriated.

Use other applications, or invent other applications, that will leverage the knowhow we have today in great UIs, that will leverage the power of desktops, and that will use intelligently the connectivity the Internet offers.

Jean-Yves
Sunday, November 18, 2001

Darin Dillon wrotes:
"Actually, .NET does change the browser behavior remarkably."

I should say:
"Actually, .NET does change Microsoft Internet Explorer behavior remarkably"

but still not right... .NET doen't change anything browser-side, just add a lot of libraries to help the creation of web content and specially using Microsoft "extensions" to the web browser (ie, dhtml controls).

But still not there... .NET is a fancy name for a Marketing Strategy. Technically, .NET is the name of the whole bunch of developing tools that Microsoft will be shipping from now on (and most of that are only upgrades to tools that have been around for a while).

Leonardo Herrera
Thursday, November 22, 2001

>>CityDesk is really just an editor to make content for browsers?

That is exactly the point!!!. Delivering content, and information is completely different than delivering a application.  The results of CityDesk is FOR A browser. It just that trying to write CityDesk and using a Browser as a interface to create this content would be a night mare.

No one here has ever stated that the browser is not good for delivering content to users. It is just crap for building applications…big difference!

Albert D. Kallal
Sunday, November 25, 2001

>It just that trying to write CityDesk and using a Browser as a interface to create this content would be a night mare.

As an example of that look at Zope.  Zope is very good but its like driving a car by holding all the linkages in your hand rather than having a steering wheel, accelerator, brake or gear shift.

Simon Lucy
Monday, November 26, 2001

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