Here I am hanging at the Palace of Arts Theater in SF at the Carson Workshops summit on the future of of web applications. The audience is filled with geeks and there are over a dozen 802.11g WAPs around yet the connectivitiy sucks. I’m online on a Verizon Wireless cell modem (no EVDO this close to the Golden Gate bridge), which is marginally better.
I’m blogging using JJ Allaire’s Windows Live Writer, which–as a desktop app–is having me worry less about these things.
The default distinction between “Web” and “desktop” apps is based on old assumptions. The former typically means something that runs in a browser and needs a server all the time. The latter typically means something that runs on the desktop and doesn’t use the Internet. These distinctions are now outdated. Most meaningful apps these days use the Internet. Yes, even MS Word does. So, the distinction really is about (a) implementation and (b) connectivity.
Just to re-iterate a point I’ve made times before, I strongly believe that apps should not need a network connection to deliver value to users unless absolutely necessary, e.g., an IM client (though you should be able to see your friends’ profiles w/o a connection, perhaps). From an implementation standpoint, AJAX & Flash will let you build great experiences that feel very rich yet run in a browser. At the same time, apps like Windows Live Writer provide a great experience outside the browser yet intimately rely on the Net for the core of what they do.
It’s interesting to see that the majority of the apps people will talk about today at the summit do require a net connection all the time…