May 03, 2007

Apollo, Silverlight, blah blah blah

Looks like Hugh W is one of the few questioning the value of Silverlight and RIA for the Web.

Flash, applets, Silverlight, Javascript -- the more you use them, the suckier your web apps are at exploring the web information space. I don't think it has to be this way, but it takes a design discipline few seem to have. These programming models are from the 80s. They have web APIs, but they're not web oriented. Programs end up as little desktop applications, not web apps. I don't see Silverlight changing that. It is good to have super expressive widgets -- hear hear. But if you're not pushing a bunch of hypertext down to my browser, you're not helping me explore the space.

I agree with his sentiment - you might say that RIA is to user interfaces as RPC is to messaging interfaces : more is not better. There probably will be a few years of smooth looking but hard to use (and harder to re-use) applications, while we wait for people to re-learn the basics of usability. I can only hope folks read Nielsen's UseIt column.


fuzzy said...

Hi Mike. Please elaborate. I don't get your point of view yet and want to.

Patrick Logan said...

You might say that, but for Apollo and Flex you'd be wrong. These can use the same HTTP restful services that other web clients use.

Now just like Java and C#, etc. they can be used to connect to other kinds of services that are not "pure web". That is a choice, not a restriction.

Apollo and Flex just give you better options with what to do with the web resources being passed around. That is all. If you want to do this in Ajax, go right ahead. It's still the same HTTP stuff on the server.

Mike Dierken said...

The point I was making was not about these client toolkits being RESTful or not RESTful, but about rich user interfaces bringing more variety in the user interactions possible.
I do want to see richer user interfaces and non-browser 'internet applications' but I don't want to deal with dozens of similar but frustatingly and subtly different ways of interacting with the same sort of widget or the same sort of information, just because some low budget job shop tossed something out there.
There are common practices and user interface theory to help guide people, but not everyone knows this or follows those practices - not to mention that not everyone agrees on what 'good' user interface means.

I'm hoping that there will be a bunch of experimentation in the next few years and a few good ideas will surface and become very common - something that can be fed back into open standards to benefit everyone.

fuzzy said...

That is my view as well.

Creative destruction if you will. Cambrian explosion if you will. Evolution if you will. Ex post facto standardization if you will.

Sorry, too much espresso ... ;)