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Is the Web a Wank?

I can think of no enterprise critical, medical, aeronautical, financial, manufacturing, etc piece of software that should ever be developed as a web application.

Sure deployment is easy, but in the real world how many people are you deploying for anyway? (I know someone will say they are writing software for 10 million users)

When you consider the available toolsets and proven track record  of typical client server application development, why would you compromise development so that you can show your software on a crappy web page using web development tools that will be obsolete in 18 months.
(Most software developed for the Web looks ghastly)

Are we developing solutions for problems that do'nt exist?

Thursday, February 7, 2002

What Web pages do I use?

Online banking -- and yes, my bank does have more than 1 million customers

This discussion -- which, if it weren't web-based, I would not have found

Online shopping -- flowers, books ... also street map look-ups, weather forecasts, ...

Web-based email -- when I'm on the road

I bought a shiny new computer for myself, with the O/S pre-installed and everything. When I signed up for inet access (via cable), my ISP gave me a CD-ful of stuff ... which I didn't install. I didn't install it, because I knew that my O/S had inet functionality built-in, and I didn't want to break it by installing random browser versions etc. Typically, if it's out there, and if it isn't web-based, then I don't use it. I avoid running other people's software on my machine.

Christopher Wells
Thursday, February 7, 2002

Yes, I agree with you Christopher, I use all those things too, but apart from those and other informational type uses, i.e newspapers, technical stuff, do we really need to be developing software for a business on the web.

Say for example a medium sized accounting firm's billing system where there are 6 users. To Web or not to Web?

Thursday, February 7, 2002

Tony wrote:
"Say for example a medium sized accounting firm's billing system where there are 6 users. To Web or not to Web?"

If they are located in Sidney, New York and Amsterdam: Web

If they move around a lot and must be able to check the system often: Web

If they are almost always in the office: Don't web

It's the always valid answer: It depends...

Far too many developers think the web is the solution for everything. Word processing on the web is not a good idea. Hotmail is. As long as we evade the solutions looking for problems syndrome, we will be fine.

Common sense is a great asset.

Jan Derk
Thursday, February 7, 2002

So little of everyday life is "mission critical" that I wonder what your point is. OK, so for the 5% of apps that are mission critical, don't use the web. Fine.

Thursday, February 7, 2002

I think that depends very much on which web sites you visit.

Thursday, February 7, 2002

I highly disagree that mission critical applications shouldn't be on the web.

Any mission critical application will have zillions of users, most of these people are not power users but need the app for day to day things: entering data, retrieving information, updating information (yes a number of things are less convenient on the web- validation, sophisticated tree type things etc...)

As for examples in stocks alone: Etrade, Ameritrade, Charles Schwab, Datek

Banks- Wells, BofA,E-Trade Bank

Also I know a bunch of people at Deltanet insurance their internal billing system (How dentists bill Delta- Dental)- you guessed it Web

A former employer, Personic, a major recruiting software vendor: Web

So just with people/businesses i deal with every day mission critical apps are being developed and deployed and used (at least by me) ON THE WEB

In a lot of cases companies have no choice but to deploy on the web. consider:
would e-trade come by the house and install an app on your desktop for you? no, to expensive. What if they did and there was a bug? E-Trade is out of business thats what. As it is, swap an .asp/.jsp/pl file and all your users are set...

now the important thing to notice is that these are tools used by most users not all of them. Analysts, Brokers etc probably don't use web-applications they use desk tops apps, however when maligning the lack of a rich web ui it is important to remeber that trading software existed before gui's too

Also, what about messaging software for cell phones, at least for WAP, and WML. Dont think thick vb clients would run very well on that!

Daniel Shchyokin
Thursday, February 7, 2002

By the way I don't think any web-site I mentioned except wells fargo looks ghastly

Daniel Shchyokin
Thursday, February 7, 2002

BofA (Bank of America), makes you download software to view your account.  At least in Oregon.  Also, you go into their banks-and you see all the clerks have green-screens.

Just wanted to bitch.... (my ex-business partner insisted we use them)

razib khan
Thursday, February 7, 2002

The requirements of your application will quickly determine which technology is best for the task at hand. Making something web based for "the fun of it" probably isnt a good idea. Web based applications do lack the user experience of their non-web counterparts, but if they achieve the task then thats all that matters.

How would you go about developing a CRM system where say 1000 staff, 500 in one location and 500 in another need to respond to customers queries, and talk them through campaigns which change daily (ie: the online forms change daily) ? Of course this is mission critical if you make a living from the CRM system.
What issues would you face doing it client/server ? What issues would you face doing it web based ?  Which one provides the most suitable solution ?

Again, it all depends on the requirements of the system.

James Ladd
Thursday, February 7, 2002

When all you have is a hammer (C++) everything looks like a nail (client-server).

Just my $0.02

Alex Russell

Alex Russell
Friday, February 8, 2002

I've been a bit slack and did'nt notice the "Web applications - are they worth it?" thread below.

This was basically the thing I was trying to discuss as well, however, far less elegantly with my "Is the Web a Wank?" thread.

Hmm...So...other people are wondering too.

I've seen quite a lot of VB/ASP type development and maybe it was the teams and/or inexperience, but it seemed to me that development standards were very low.

In all, a crazy rush to "get on the wave", throwing all principles of software engineering to the side.

I'd really like to look at a web banking application or a savvy web development team and see how it should/could be done.

Friday, February 8, 2002

Of course the web is a wank. At least 90% of all corporate software applications are wanks, measured by the simple yardstick of "does this effort actually result in a net increase to corporate value?" So what? Money from stupid clients works just as well at the bank as any other kind.

Mike Gunderloy
Friday, February 8, 2002

As I tend to feel used by web applications rather than using them, I think its more like date rape than a wank.

Mind you there is that period of self loathing afterwards...

Simon Lucy
Friday, February 8, 2002

Ah, Mike, another cynic.

Lets not go there, it gets a bit scary.
We end up questioning our very existence.

Maybe the Web is just another bit of flotsom on the shore of life.

Saturday, February 9, 2002

Oh, c'mon, Tony...I'll just start up a fresh topic so we can go there.

And Simon, I may have to invoice you for the costs of cleaning sprayed coffee out of a keyboard.

Mike Gunderloy
Saturday, February 9, 2002

It would be money well spent, though I doubt I'm responsible for all the gunk between your keys as well.

Simon Lucy
Sunday, February 10, 2002

Simon - I know what you mean, but I never have the self loathing.

In fact I'm merely disappointed that I ca'nt do it again immediately.

Friday, February 15, 2002

Ah youth, when 'Again' was a question asked rather than a disbelieving exclamation, 'Not Again!?'

Simon Lucy
Friday, February 15, 2002

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