There is much in the tech press today about Web 2.0 applications, and although the term is used very loosely, and seems to be loosely defined, there are those who seem to think that the days of the desktop client are numbered! My question is — what number? My answer to the question would have to be roughly equivalent to the number of days that it has taken Cobol to die (remember Cobol, the language of business years ago? and still around today?).
Well, Web applications have in fact come a long way from their start, and certainly they have made significant advances in their ability to handle the tasks of ordering on-line and related tasks. However, while I read about all the wonderful Web 2.0 applications being created I find myself wondering at what point will these web applications be ready for the moment-to-moment database data entry tasks of a well-developed desktop application — or will they ever be — or if so, what about cost effectiveness? Is there really a desire to have an ERP system for example with only a browser interface?
As I’ve stated in the past, my view is generally from a small business perspective, and I keep looking at various on-line web applications and think of the advantages there would be for the IT departments I deal with, who are often zero to two people in size. What a beautiful thing it would be to not have to deal with some of the issues posed by client-side installations. All they’d have to be concerned with would be the browser compatibility — piece of cake! Then again, servers don’t go away — and neither does the network or the security issues. I guess the IT people will still have “something” to do with their time — and that’s a good thing!
In addition, certainly there will be plenty to keep developers going as they work toward more and more web/browser based applications. There will always be the interface design challenges – and they will look different than the desktop interface designs of today. Yet the same considerations for users will need to be addressed — issues like meaningful error messages and “User Friendly” operation.
The requirements for application developers today may be changing, their tools of the trade may be changing and their application presentations may be changing, but one thing that isn’t changing is the user, and user needs.