Sunday, October 28, 2007

Web 2.0, AJAX and the thin client iPhone: all overrated

Most of the time, I am quite fond of Gmail. Which is to say, the AJAX technologies that Microsoft gave us [1] were a nice improvement on what we used to call DHTML (JavaScript drive dynamic HTML). Reliable JavaScript [2] and AJAX are the technical foundations of what's still sometimes called Web 2.0 .

So far, so good.

Alas, that's as far as it goes. An infinite amount of money can't make Google Docs anything more than a pale imitation of the desktop office products of 1990. The very, very best web-based applications for creating web pages have about 2% of the power, functionality and performance of FrontPage 98. As in 1998.

Jobs much vaunted [3] iPhone web apps don't work when you're in an airplane, a tunnel, inside the bowels of an office building, in an elevator, in a remote cabin, outside the US or anywhere else that AT&T's network isn't performing at full speed and top quality.

Stop it.

Just stop it.

Give me thick client applications written in Pascal [4], C, assembler, FORTRAN, C#, Python ... even Java ... any day. I don't care how painful it is to code those suckers, that's why I pay money for the products.

Ok. I feel better now.

[1] The primary challenge to Microsoft's dominance of the desktop came from ... Microsoft. They weren't unique, but IE did set the standard.

[2] More irony. Microsoft's war with Netscape had, as a side-effect, the establishment of a standardized open JavaScript.

[3] I can only pray these are a delaying tactic to allow a true SDK to come to market -- which Jobs has sort-of promised us.

[4] I've never seen software that performed as reliably and as efficiently as the Mac Classic applications written in Pascal. I think they were even relatively immune to typical hacking measures. Just saying.

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