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Jun writes about the Web of Applications:

The idea of The Web of Applications goes along the same line but on a different level. We don't really integrate at the data level but rather at the application level. Think of applications as small pieces of logic (services) that work on data. In the example of the calendar, a subset of the whole web should be the global calendar. Each small calendar (personal, group, etc.) has permlinks to other events in other calendars. The interfaces between the calendars are of the service nature, not just at the low data level.

Significance: It's in web's distributed, decentralized, P2P model and you can only expect huge growth out of this model unless you are a Google. If each little piece (in this case, it's the calendar; in other cases other applications) can be as easy as a blog (Web2), then the growth of The Web of Applications can be exponential, just like when people started to created HTML pages (Web1) and link to each other.

Our vision: People will create small applications of all sorts and link to each other. This is the Web of Applications.

This reminds me of what Rohit used to call application-layer internetworking:
Bags of bits will routed hop-by-hop through whatever application-layer protocol is available, from source to destination. We call this insight Application Layer Internetworking, or ALIN, named by analogy to IP Layer Internetworking done by today's Layer 3 Routers (slides, notes).
Jun has a nice chart describing the Web of Applications, and writes:
The web has been extremely successful. Web1 is a web of HTML pages, some broken, but mostly useful and robust. Web2 seems to be at least about a web of blogs, linked by permlinks. Web3 may be about a web of applications.

Result of webservices may be cached. The web of applications is the biggest implementation of Forward Propagation Model (otherwise known as dependency caching).

One common feature of these 3 generations of web is the units are all small, can be created by mere mortals and yet number in millions. The user model of web of applications should be very simple...

Sounds compelling, I look forward to hearing more...

Vinod Kulkarni

Perhaps it will become possible for google to allow us to create applications that could be delivered using its platform?

For example, it will allow this type of application to use a specially designed UI markup that would be rendered by google. It will allow the app to store its context in user's gmail mailbox (and access using standard API). And allow special RPC calls for extended use of AI. And take care of supporting multiple browsers by offering a uniform widget interface such as laszlo .

The difference between traditional ASP applications, and the ones allowed to be served by google would be that the massive computational, UI and service infrastructure which a data center can't possibly provide.

Adam Bramwell

Adam you've written this a bit late in the year to garner any 'post of the year' accolades, but you've tied it all together very well into a cohesive piece. Nice summary!

I was once told that writing can be therapeutic for the author as well as informative for the reader. I certainly found reading the above very informative, i trust you found writing it therapeutic.

dHTML'ers please gather round for a warm fuzzy this New Year.

John Dowdell

"...The Three M's Of UI Lock-in (Macromedia, Microsoft, and Mozilla), all of which aim to fatten up the client and lock some users in and lock other would-be users out because they don't have Flash or XAML or XUL or any other doesn't-work-on-some-platforms complex soup...."

fwiw, one of the things I like about the Macromedia Flash Player is that it will work invisibly in a great range of operating systems and browsers... getting the engine is quick, simple, and doesn't change the viewing environment or user habits.

(DHTML is cool, and its range-of-use will increase year-by-year as browsers converge, but as this multi-engine approach gains ground, single-engine approaches stake out yet further ground. The development/testing costs come into play too. Could go either way... having complementary approaches helps.)

John Dowdell
Macromedia Support

You expect my wife to work the way she does with images and stuff using DHTML and stylesheets? Forget it.

She needs a full multimedia platform, Flash Studio.

Peter Eddy

This is total crap. Yes, the web is okay for some applications that can get by with minimal interactivty. But, you'll never see a viable Microsoft Word HTML application (unless it uses browser or OS specific functionality, then why bother?) Same goes for PhotoShop and a bazillion other apps. For corporate applications, the only people who are better off with web apps are the people in the IT department. It's much easier for them, but end users suffer.

HTML is great for linking text to other text. Other than that, it's the worst application platform I've used in my 20 years of application development. It's time to acknowledge that hypertext does not a viable platform make.


The problem is that is very difficult to write real Web Applications because there isn't a real UI framework. Maybe XUL could be the answer. Take a look here for some real remote XUL application:

Mozilla Amazon Browser:

XUL File Manager:


Thanks for the comments, folks; you've given me a lot of interesting food for thought.

To the point of real UI frameworks, I forgot to mention that OSAF's Application Project is doing some interesting work in that area as well.

On the lighter side, Star-Telegram listed what it thought were the most interesting innovations of 2004, and many of them are web-based:

While I'm posting, I'll note that Richard MacManus has a great weekly wrap-up about web-based applications, in which he cites the Mitch Kapor gem,

For 25 years, I've preached the superiority of the PC as an application platform, but times change and reconsideration is in order. The web browser and the infrastructure of the World Wide Web is on the cusp of bettering its aging cousin, the desktop-based graphical user interface for common PC applications.
Nicely stated...


John, Flash will never play here until Flash the proprietary server requirement goes away. I should be able to code a Flash app in a text editor that interacts with my web server running PHP.

One reason these richer dhtml/javascript apss aren't more prevalent is because it remains criminally unclear how to make post/get calls with JavaScript in the browser (using XMLHTTP or whatever). This should be trivially easy and yet no where does there exist a plain english explanation of how to do this.

Espen Antonsen

My views on web-applications


"In 2004, Google's applications like Gmail and experiments like Google Suggest demonstrate that we can have robust, interactive, useful web-based applications." I really think that Gmail was a big leap ahead. It will let Google become even more popular, as it use to lose in comparison to Yahoo or MSN for the lack of additional services.
Jane, web designer

Joe Peffer

Now that data is shared via XML, it opens up all sorts of doors for data exchange, and service attachments. Specific processing of key data attributes could be a service provided by a 3rd party, that adds value through extra intelligence. I think we are starting to see Google move to the a company that offers services, that are extensible pieces or specific processing abilities that can be leveraged.

Also, I believe that we are going to see the advent of Neural SOA, the ability not only to attach services, but the ability to discover, configure and consume. Many of these moves are already underway through UDDI, and other emerging standards.


Nice article by Christopher Allen on Google Suggest Dissected and how this could be the way many web-based applications get built in the future:

As a former Macintosh developer, I've always been disappointed with the user-interface of web pages. The state of the art of UI design moved backwards with the advent of the browser -- we traded connectivity for ease-of-use. With the advent of pages written in Flash, some better user-interfaces were created, but at the important cost of things like being able to copy text, have semantic and meta-data information imbedded in web pages, searchability, etc.

So I keep an eye out for innovative ideas that preserve the essence of what is so powerful about web pages, yet also offer a good ideas. My posts on Map Mashup and TiddlyWiki offer some interesting web UI exemplars.


To this list of exemplars I now add Google Suggest by Google programmer Kevin Gibbs, who wrote this as part of Google employee's ability to work 20% of the time on their own projects. Google Suggest replaces the browser's default auto-complete with one specific to Google searching. As you type each letter of your search request, you are shown the most popular requests for that term, and how many search hits are available for that search term. You really have to try out to understand how amazing and intuitive it is.

Blogger Chris Justus has dissected and documented how Google Suggest works. If you are a web developer, I recommend you read his analysis and I hope it will inspire you.

This specific technique is probably not useful for all web sites -- the amount of load that even a small number of users can place on a database using this technique requires a large server infrastructure, as basically every time you type a letter a database is being hit. Google can do this as they understand server farms and how to scale large loads. However, as inspiration for other ideas, I think it is marvelous.

For instance, I didn't know you could take control over your browsers auto-complete functionality by setting autocomplete="off" in your input field. Given this and the other techniques for display and cursor control, you could create dynamic auto-complete functionality on your own web pages, but skip the bandwidth intensive XMLHttpRequest by either caching the data in your web page, or in a user's cookie, or both. An example of this is BitFlux blog's LiveSearch functionality (which is also documented here).

The technique for retrieving the data using XMLHttpRequest is also marvelous. This functionality has been around for a while but this is one of the cleanest examples of how to do it on the client side.

I've got some other ideas on how to apply some of these techniques to Wiki pages -- hopefully in the next few months I'll have some proof-of-concept examples for you to play around with.

In addition, Google Suggest is now, in a sense, a new web service from google that can be used independently. For instance Adam Stiles has written about a hack to help suggest keywords for AdSense.

It definitely inspires me. And by the way, using Google maps definitely inspires me, too. I'm getting the idea buzz...

Via Matt Haughey I found this very cool article by Jesse James Garrett of Adaptive Path called Ajax: a New Approach to Web Applications. I got very excited when I read Jesse's article because I thought to myself, "Yes! Yes! He's saying what I was thinking but unable to articulate. This is it -- the thrill of the potential of next-generation web-based applications! Jesse wrote:

Instead, the challenges are for the designers of these applications: to forget what we think we know about the limitations of the Web, and begin to imagine a wider, richer range of possibilities.

If people got excited about the Ajax vision -- and from talking with friends around Silicon Valley, it's safe to say that they are -- then I have the feeling Dojo Toolkit is going to blow a lot of peoples' minds about what is possible with web apps.

By the way, I love what Matt wrote in his post:

All this talk of persistent connections and javascript powered streaming data reminds me of my brief time at KnowNow back in early 2001. Adam and Rohit discovered and exploited a largely unused feature of the http 1.1 spec that allowed a browser to connect to a server and stay connected. New data would stream in via javascript and they built half a dozen of the most amazing applications I ever saw. I remember being sure that this technology would change web application development forever, and enable web apps that felt more like desktop apps, way back in 2001.
Companies are evanescent but movements have longer-lasting effects. The technology did change web application development forever, just not as quickly and not as directly as we had hoped. In showing those demos to everyone who would listen to us, we got many people to think differently about what was possible with web-based applications. Other grassroots efforts (including, but certainly not limited to, mod-pubsub) were having similar effects, and over the past four years, as the technologies matured, more people started to get it.

This movement -- the movement of dynamic web-based applications -- started very slowly but is finally gaining significant momentum. I have a feeling that the best is yet to come.

By the way, the sooner companies stop asking webdev employee candidates the same questions they ask C++ or Java developers, the sooner those companies will have beautiful dynamic web-based applications to share with the world. Biz Stone and Bay Wei Chang get it. But not all companies do, so far...

Hey, why did this page suddenly get so many hits? (Flips through logs.) Oh. Got slashdotted:

FalsePositives writes "Ajax: A New Approach to Web Applications (from Adaptive Path and via Jeffery Veen) introduces their experiences with what they are calling 'Ajax' as in 'Asynchronous JavaScript + XML' aka the XmlHttpRequest Object. It is used by Google (Google Maps, Google Suggest, Gmail), in Amazon's A9, and a few others (like the map of Switzerland spotted by Simon Willison). ... Is this 'The rise of the Weblication'?"
Hmmm. Ajax: making the world more powerful and user friendly or just a household toilet cleaner? You be the judge...

While I'm on the subject of weblications, let me take a moment to applaud IBM's endorsement of PHP. Peter Yared writes,

Congrats to the guys at Zend for having the foresight to make PHP 5 use a lot of the same syntax as Java (try/catch/finally, public/protected/private). PHP 5 will be a very easy transition for people who know Java. I remember when I first coded in Java in 1995 I was productive in minutes because I already knew C++ syntax and Smalltalk dynamic OO principles. If you know Java and BASIC you will be all set to go with PHP 5.
PHP saves developer time, which is far more valuable than CPU time. Jon Udell's "Myth: IT doesn't scale" article reminds us that architecture matters most when it comes to reliability and scalability -- not programming language choice.

As a result, a project manager's main focuses -- functionality, cost, and time -- all depend on the productivity of the project's devs and ops people. I believe that history will show that LAMP/PLAD makes people more productive. We've passed the turning point, and IBM's announcement gives it momentum.

Christopher Vigliotti

Let's hope that this "new approach to web applications" considers accessibility standards for disabled users.

Josef Davies-Coates

The people leading the pack in building the p2p and public domain version of what some people describe as GooOs are the espians, who call it the plex.

Someone should probably give them millions of dollars so that they can poach some their friends that are currently working for google and others who'd help out if it would pay their bills

Check out and join the fun at irc://

Francis Shanahan

You folks might appreciate my Amazon Zuggest tool which uses some of the "Ajax" concepts you're talking about and works similarly to Google Suggest.

Check it out:


She needs a full multimedia platform, Flash Studio.

kostenlose foren

This movement -- the movement of dynamic web-based applications -- started very slowly but is finally gaining significant momentum. I have a feeling that the best is yet to come.


This is an excellent article on [how the web as a platorm], and how moving to a de-centralized working environment is a good thing.


Let's hope that this "new approach to web applications" considers accessibility standards for disabled users.

mikael bergkvist

Nothing is easier than Xin, when it comes to creating serverapplications, it's not even technically possible for anything to be simplier than that I think, so we'll soon find out if this reasoning holds true or not..

Account Deleted

you can look to action script 3 in adobe web site.i made those sites with php javascript and flash
oyun sitesi

Account Deleted

this is really a nice article. i hope this new approach towards web application would be better step.

Account Deleted

Excellent post and wonderful blog, I really like this type of interesting articles keep it up.

Nice job I really like it!

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