The case against “The case against Web Apps”

A friend put this link up on plurk yesterday, and I just had to disagree.

I think Web apps are resonable and responsible development, and I wanted to respond point-by-point.

1. It’s client-server all over again

Well, yeah, if all you do is on the server only.  But why not distribute the work?  Put the common work in a common location.  Yeah, your laptop may have loads of power, but the server has more, and access to more data, which you really don’t want to distribute it everywhere (or replicate umpteen times)?  Update: By the way, today (3 Feb. ’09) I read a Gartner report from 4 Aug. 2008 which says that Server-Based Computing is cheaper than PCs by 12 to 27%, and has other advantages (according to IDG Connect e-mail I get regularly) — yes, it’s by Citrix, so there’s ulterior motives, but Gartner nonetheless.

The other answer to this complaint is: yeah, so?  It’s not like the client-server model has been completely ‘disproved.’

I should point out that (a) I’m a senior software engineer, and (b) I don’t have a compiler installed on my laptop!  I don’t need one.  All my work is done via web browser.  Seriously, my development tools are MS Word, Visio and IE — and occasionally Excel.  So I think the case against Web apps is way wrong.  Of course, I’m only one perspective, but I think that the generalization I can make is valid, because my work spans two industries and different companies (just check who is using PegaSystems’ PRPC [Pega Rules Process Commander]).

2. Web UIs are a mess

Yeah, they can be.  What UI isn’t? or, is there a UI that can’t be a mess, or can’t be cleaned up?

3. Brower tech. are too limiting

This may be true, but I think Google would disagree.  Besides, are we really limited to browser?  Maybe we are now, but not for long if people continue to develop software there, and all forms of UI change over time (no paradigm lasts forever).

4. The big vendors call the shots

If they follow some standard, I don’t care.  This may be my weakest argument, but what form doesn’t that apply to?  Tell me that Microsoft doesn’t control the Windows UI, or Apple the Mac?  Have you seen the outcomes for applications that break with existing norms in any arena?  not pretty.

5. Should every employee have a browser?

You’re kidding, right?  What century do you live in?


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