Browse or Not to Browse

I read an interesting post today on Ryan Stewart’s blog about Apollo. According to Adobe Apollo is…

“The code name for a cross-operating system runtime being developed by Adobe that allows developers to leverage their existing web development skills (Flash, Flex, HTML, JavaScript, Ajax) to build and deploy Rich Internet Applications (RIAs) to the desktop.”

Here is what was interesting part for me

“The browser is a broken, but comfortable delivery medium for RIAs. People are familiar with the browser because that is how they have always interacted with the web. Ajax brought on the idea of web applications, and they work within a browser (after a number of hacks). Even the Flash Player runs within a browser, because that is how people access the web. But this is backwards. The kinds of things happening on the web now shouldn’t require a browser. Sure, we will still read blogs and search in a browser; but for the kinds of web apps we are seeing, using a browser is like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole – it won’t work well

Apollo (and technologies like WPF) take those applications and extract them from the browser. The power of the web is still there, but people are no longer going to have to interact with these applications inside a browser. There are going to be some difficult growing pains – people are going to resist at first. But change is good, and Apollo is an evolution of software development. We have seen the power of the web, but Apollo can make better use of that power by breaking the chains of the browser.”

I was not sure after reading this whether Apollo will only run outside browser but some presentation that I saw, showed a demo running Apollo based application in the browser.

Here are the things that I agree…

  1. I agree that Browser is comfortable delivery medium
  2. I agree the fact that though browser has been one way users have been interacting with web, it is changing with rise of applications that either hide the browser from end user (something like Media Center Applications) or they dont use browser at all such as rich connected client applications.

But here are things that I dont agree…

  1. I dont agree that Browser is broken for exact same reason Ryan mentions it. Browser is what people are familiar with. People dont have to “learn” application if it follows other things that they already see in the browsre. Things like navigation, back/forward etc. 
  2. Browser is also the way people are finding things out. This is the starting point. If you choose to do different things after clicking on a link then they will be starting new experience from end user perspective.

I think, the decision to stay in the browser or not should be left to app developer. App developer would make a if the UX they want is inside browser or not. I think in some case browser is still a great application host. For example, I dont mind my content application running in the browser. I would hate if I start my browser on CNN.com and then go to MSNBC.com to Samachar.com, each one of them opens a new windows. But I would not mind if it opens a new window if I am looking at CRM data etc. I am just picking the example that made sense to me but if you dont agree with those examples and have different examples then it still proves the point that app developer should be able to decide that app should run in the browser or not.

I definitly agree that we should not try to fit square peg in round hole but I hope we dont swing the pendulum in the other direction so hard that now different things are hader for user.

Apollo FAQ

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