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What say ye, desktop developers?

Interesting read on the shift to browser based apps.

http://www.computerworld.com/softwaretopics/software/story/0,10801,85513,00.html

My company certainly likes them.  Much easier to deploy.  I like them cause we essentially turn the pc back into a dumb terminal and get back to a centralized, maintainable model.

Crusty Admin
Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Done to death here.

You can have zero-touch admin programs that are client/server. For that matter, it can be zero install as well. The browser is a poor platform for application, but just barely acceptable enough that some people seem to think it can and should be used for most everything.

They're often bolstered by the lazy or incompetent IT department, who agrees with their misinformed opinions.

Brad Wilson (dotnetguy.techieswithcats.com)
Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Well said, Brad.

Tim Sullivan
Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Depends on the app.

We're completely reliant on them for a number of reasons:
* Cheap and easy to build
* No C++ developers on staff
* Users can't handle much complexity.

Web apps are cheap tech.  They open custom software up to nearly everyone.  That, I think, is a good thing.

Matthew Lee
Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Crusty, thanks for the great link!  As someone that hopes to eventually sell to developers this is very informative.

All of the numbers in the survey feel right to me... and I agree that the reason for the shift is as Brad said.  Many times I have heard someone tell a non-techy that the application would be a web app, so it would be easy to maintain.  This is something that is intuitive to the non-techy, so there is no resistance.

Scot Doyle
Tuesday, November 18, 2003

There's a bigger point people are missing here: 90% of what goes on in a business requires nothing more complicated than a web app, from the user's perspective.  The remaining 10% is a few specialty programs and a bunch of spreadsheets.

We're rebuilding our current system around a web applications architecture, and we have an interface "ladder": the bottom rung is straight web app; reports are delivered that way, or can be received as a spreadsheet; above that, Flash, and above that, SWT.  To move up the ladder, there has to be a demonstrable need for a richer interface, and we're not finding any--web app and excel take care of almost everything, and specialty software takes of the rest (e.g., Quark for page layout, CAD for product design).  Backing all of that is an applications server, with a database backing that up.

We've test run this on two important systems, and the web app version is far superior in everyone's opinion: more features, more easily implemented, and a more controlled user experience that decreases errors.  Faster to develop, easier to maintain.

Justin Johnson
Tuesday, November 18, 2003

My mistake: there are two areas where a web app is insufficient, both involving the inclusion of images on specifications.  For that, SWT.

Justin Johnson
Tuesday, November 18, 2003

There's a quote in the document that confused me - pdf page 6 or real page 40 - talking about scripting languages (generating web pages) being faster to develop in, and how "users are revolting" (!) and creating "guerrilla" apps.

Are they suggesting that users are creating -web- apps and running them on a company server "without jumping through IT hoops"?
(My experience is even development teams have to jump through IT hoops to get anything running on a web server.)

Do companies out there have open servers for users to upload and run their own apps?

ScottB
Wednesday, November 19, 2003

In an ideal world we would ditch the browser for all but, well, browsing. Using it with satisfaction for anything else is a strech of the imagination for both developers and end-users.
However, in some places I have seen a web-app tendency as a cascade effect of incompetence in system management. In some organisations client machines are in a complete state of chaos. I have seen places where 200+ W2K machines are deployed without even a domain (every single user runs as a local admin on his machine).
In such organisations there is a tendency by the app owners to take as much control as possible over the runtime environment. So they want the code to run on their own servers, and if the end user has once again fucked up his client machine, it is not our problem. They can go complain to the "system manager" to get them back to a state where they have a browser again, and the "system administrator" can not brush them off saying its the fault of app so and so.
Sad, deeply sad, but sadly a true story.

Just me (Sir to you)
Wednesday, November 19, 2003

just recently we had to do some hard thinking about web app vs client desktop app.

we finally went with client desktop app (I had the casting vote), but for me a _very_ close runner was something created in flash...

we needed an interface for creating, displaying and editing records from a database backend, and close integration with the network file system and the operating system.

the interesting thing was that we only need that for roughly 1/3 of the app, the rest could have been done in flash pretty easily I suspect and also with more of a stretch in html/css (data entry via browser anyone?).

I considered splitting development, but there was no clean line to split it along, so the decisions was made :)  <g> Ill let you know in a year or two whether it was the correct one.

The real shame is that a small part of the functionality (approx 1/6) _will_ have to be replicated on the web as a service for the clients of my client anyway.

FullNameRequired
Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Do companies out there have open servers for users to upload and run their own apps?

Not where I work buddy. We only have this freedom on our workstation local instances of Weblogic. Once we want to deploy to the Development environment we need to coordinate with various Dev groups. When we want to deploy to Quality & Production environments we have to fill out paper work and copy all of our files to a pre-implementation area. We do not have permissions for Quality or Production - another group handles all of that....

GenX'er
Wednesday, November 19, 2003

"Using [the browser] with satisfaction for anything else [other than browsing] is a strech of the imagination for both developers and end-users."

I find this kind of attitude rather amazing.  Who cares what the platform is, as long as it works well?

Personally, 90% of the applications I use on a day to day basis are "web apps".  But aside from the fact that they run inside the browser, I don't really notice the difference between them and the similar desktop apps that I used to run. 

Well, aside from the fact that I can access them from any machine...

.
Wednesday, November 19, 2003

When is Joel going to come up with a desktop version of joelonsoftware?  This browser-based app (for viewing posts, adding messages, etc.) is stretching it.


Thursday, November 20, 2003

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