The Disappearing Desktop - It's Real This Time

David Bovill david at
Thu Nov 10 06:21:30 EST 2005

On 10 Nov 2005, at 00:38, Dan Shafer wrote:

> I almost labeled this post off-topic since our purpose here is to  
> discuss how to use Revolution. But I decided on balance that it  
> affects everyone here, so I left off the [OT].
> I've just posted a blog entry at 
> 3c66aaec that I believe should be of interest to everyone who is in  
> the programming universe today. I've been leaning in this direction  
> for years, drawn strongly to it for the past few months, and have  
> now tipped over the edge. Some will think I'm over the edge,  
> alright, but perhaps not in the way I intended.
> My prediction -- based on a lot of evidence and clinched by two  
> leaked Microsoft memos that you really need to read (they're  
> indirectly linked in my blog entry) -- is that the days of the  
> desktop app are indeed finally numbered. At best, we will see  
> desktops reduced to being containers for ultra-thin clients and  
> specialized Internet browsing tools while *everything else* runs as  
> a (probably ad-supported) Web service.
> Yeah, I know. You've heard this before. And there's a lot of  
> skepticism here and elsewhere on the Net. But Ray Ozzie's no idiot  
> and Microsoft's not ignorant or stupid (whatever else they may well  
> be).
> Comments welcome, though I'd appreciate it if you'd register for my  
> blog (it's free) and post them there even if you choose to echo  
> them here. This issue is much bigger than Rev but it affects  
> everyone on this list, IMNSHO.

Sort of Dan :)

Totally agree about the importance of Web Services - they will take  
all comers by storm over the next 2 years - read my lips :) However,  
as a prediction I am betting (my work at least) that you miss  
something. Web browsers suck - the idea of a universal client that  
can display and present every conceivable user application is daft.  
Standards based web services, using xHTMl, XML, or other even more  
simple to parse data formats - yes. A rich variety of "browsers" =  
clients that use this data and display desktop grade interfaces -  
yes. But standard HTML browser based thin clients - no.

What you will see is more "plugins" for Browsers - the main advantage  
of FireFox. What you will see is many other "browsers" emerging to  
take advantage of these web services - blog tools, outliners, chat  
clients, video browsers. Some may be based on embedded browser  
technology - web toolkits and Mozilla, some written in their own  
languages - python, ruby, java (forget php) - the various languages  
beginning with C. What you will see is more "zero install" clients -  
think java applets and downloadable Rev stacks.

Regarding Revolution - I am sure that a number of us from this list  
are very hopeful that Rev can position itself as a premier tool fro  
creating these clients. To do this - well? Firstly, I'd emphasise  
some things that maybe are not stressed high enough up the request list:

     - cross platform video support - think vlc?

     - placing Rev in the context of large open source projects -  
think web services and development frameworks.

     - a real market for developer community contributed web services  
and zero-instal components - think security, digital signatures and  
certificates, based on an existing open and strong online community  
(you don't build these things overnight - thanks Scott).

     - Unicode

The block I have is the issue of JavaScript - can Rev do without a  
Javascript interpreter in this world? You can sort of use the open  
scripting architecture on Macs to script Revolution using Javascript  
- but this is not cross-platform and probably flaky - I only did  
brief testing a couple of years ago... I think the answer is "yes" -  
but maybe it is "no"?

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