Wednesday, 28 March 2007

You heard it here first... the online desktop vs offline Webapp debate

For a while I thought I was just some crackpot blogger questioning the value of offline Webapps, but I feel a little better now that Read/WriteWeb have entered the debate with a couple of posts today:

  • It started with this post, Adobe Apollo - On A Collision Course With Web Browsers - "It appears that, intentionally or not, Adobe is on a collision course with IE, Firefox and the rest of the Web Browsers. Firefox has already said it is looking to add support for offline applications into its next version. If this happens, it will be bad news for Apollo - because Firefox users are not going to switch. IE plans in the same space are not clear, but we can be certain that if offline mode for web applications takes off, then there will be support in IE."
  • And was followed by this, Point/Counterpoint: Which is better, an offline Web App or an online Desktop App? - "This is a point/counterpoint argument, with John Milan taking the position that online desktop apps are better, while Richard MacManus argues for offline web apps."

Now that I don't feel like such crackpot (at least for asking the question), I'll put forward a couple more poorly thought out ideas for you to think about:

  • In the longterm the browser is dead, and I think the question is more about offline Webapps that work across multiple operating systems vs online operating systems - in a way I see Adobe Apollo actually challenging the value of the underlying operating system;
  • In the longterm the offline vs online doesn't matter, the future (Web 3.0?) will be peer-to-peer - I don't actually want to worry about synchronisation, I just want to access my data when I need it, from where ever I am and from what ever device I'm using... so lets actually separate the client from the data even further.

OK. I'll crawl back in my cave now. Switch off the lights please.


  1. Graham Chastney11:33 pm

    Don't think you're a crack pot at all.

    This is a long running issue.

    The key question for me, though, is which will dominate:

    1) Applications made for the browser made to work offline.
    2) Desktop applications made to utilise the cloud.

    Microsoft are predominantly backing the latter, others are backing the former.

    I think it will be an interesting fight.

  2. You know, if enough of us crackpots band together....

    The browser going away? I'm not so sure about that one. Rick Gregory put forth a continuim that makes sense to me. There will probably always be an interactive viewer of some kind. Whether its HTML based like we see today, or moves toward coding like Apollo is proposing is an interesting question.


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