Friday, January 25, 2008

The Web, Looking Foward

The text below was in response to an email I received at work. I went off on a rant, that probably wouldn't be that much appreciated by my coworkers, but I liked my rant so rather then email it out I'll just post it here.


The sad part is that Netscape will sail off into the sunset in February. My first "real" tech job was installing Netscape on thousands of computers at various Motorola plants around Phoenix. Now there is no more Motorola in Phoenix and no more Netscape. And we are still developing apps targeting HTML, which was never intended to be used in any way other then to present documents. I wish there was a standard runtime that we could develop against. Java was the right idea but it got derailed by M$, and then kind of fragmented. Silverlight looks promising, but it has to mature a bit more I think. Flash/Flex is another option, but working in the Flash dev environments sucks. Eclipse for Flex is a little better I hear, but I haven't played with it much other then looking over someone's shoulder to see what Flex could do. Then there are other XML technologies like xforms, that at least would be a half step up from HTML, but we would still be building strings on the server to be downloaded and display on a client's webbrowser, which ultimately, if you really step back and think about it for application development, is lame.

What I would like to see is something like Unity3D or Director 11 not just be geared towards game development, but also build in some functionality for displaying datasets,and something similar to winforms. Then you would have something akin to the whole Minority Report movie interface. I've seen some things in Flash and other programs that look pretty Minority Report'ish, but again I think those apps look great despite Flash/Flex not because of it.

Sorry, I've just been thinking and reading a lot about the future of the web. I think Silverlight is on the right path, and Flash to a lesser extent. Director was on the total right path but then Macromedia/Adobe let it die. That literally could have put back web development by like 10 years without anyone even realizing it. Flash took off, but it should have been Director, which Flash was originally a subset of. The same with the slow death of Java, it M$ hadn't crushed it, we might be seeing Rich Internet Applications today, written in a much more robust and faster version of Java, the likes of which we probably won't see till the 2012+ range.

I hate to say it but it is time to choose between Flash/Flex or Silverlight, or go out on a limb and shoot for something like Unity. Allegidly Web 3.0 will be the "Game/Avatar" web, so maybe that wouldn't be a bad choice. Second Life was hailed as the new web, and it has its uses, but generally it is a dud due to stability and limited functionality issues. Also back in the day there was VRML. That was web 3.0 in 1997. Great idea, but it never went anywhere. Some people are trying to resurrect it as X3D. Not sure if X3D is ready for prime time. Maybe now with bandwidth and processor power up Web 3.0 might be ready. Ultimately I think HTML web development (ie HTML as a front end, ASP, ASP.Net, PHP, etc... on a server backend) will be around for years, but it will begin to fade in importance, probably starting this year. The server piece will still be there, but we will be piping info to Silverlight, Flash, or another interface rather then HTML.

I babble. I'm probably not saying anything you guys didn't know already. This is what the pain meds for my tooth do to me :) I used to talk tech a lot at my old gig, I kind of miss it. Sorry.


ctrain said...

Thanks for the small blurb on the future of web development. I only really get to read about it off and on and never have time to play around with any programming because I'm pretty swamped doing a mathematics masters. I'll have to check out your blog again sometime.

infocyde said...

Thanks for the comment. I didn't know anyone actually read my blog :) I've found that my writing skills have really deteriorated since college, so I'm blogging to try to learn how to write again. I'm glad you found the post interesting, and I hope you continue to read my blog.