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web services / 'thinish' client over web apps?

Been thinking about some things I can do with my time now my placement year is over and uni will restart.

I'm fed up of using / developing web apps with the user interface limits they have.

This has got me thinking in the past few days about developing software with web services and delivering all the data to a client app instead of a web interface. Now I've obviously read Joel's "Microsoft lost the API war..." etc...

Does this make any sense to develop or a complete waste of time and I should really be sticking to web apps?

Opinions? Thoughts?

James 'Smiler' Farrer
Thursday, September 2, 2004

I've been writing software for 20 years and have never in my life developed a web app. I've done drivers, servers, thick clients, console applications, and "embedded" software (e.g. running on a GUI-less telephone switch).

I guess I'm saying there's more to writing software than developing web apps.

My current project involves a thick client talking to a server via a "web service" protocol: the client is thick because it's creating graphs that the end-user can manipulate locally.

Christopher Wells
Thursday, September 2, 2004

I've done this for a couple of small apps with wxPython and some simple web services stuff. Yeah it's nice. You can even write one GUI client and one web-based front-end for the same web services back-end.

Definately looks more impressive / costly to clients aswell, I think. If you present them with a custom-coded GUI app to twiddle their web database it looks a lot more impressive than some online thing.

Just as goddamn boring to code though.

Thursday, September 2, 2004

In my experience, clients who want web apps tend to have very firm reasons for them to be web-based and aren't likely to even consider a desktop client + server solution.

Thursday, September 2, 2004

Microsoft refers to this as a "Smart Client," and the .NET platform provides at least some tools (like the DataSet) that can help you out there.

Smart Clients are definately a good investment, as long as the features of the app made possible by using a thick client justify the extra hassles of deployment.  Of course, there's also One-Click Deployment, which attempts to provide the best of both worlds.

I disagree that most clients who say they want a web app want a web app for a specific reason.  Most clients I get for consulting projects really don't know what they want...they've just heard various incomplete tidbits of information here and there.  Unless you're targeting multiple OS's or a wide/unknown user base (which are the web's clear strengths), you should always give thought to both approaches and see which seems to better meet the project's goals.

Thursday, September 2, 2004

PS -- I referred specifically to MS technologies, but Java has very similar capabilities too, as do other platforms I'm sure...

Thursday, September 2, 2004

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