AJAX and alternatives, was: Re: [FoRK] AJAX: Asynchronous JavaScript + XML

Luis Villa luis.villa at gmail.com
Wed Mar 30 17:25:29 PST 2005

[BTW, until there is a cross-platform way to reliably set up
drivers/cameras/etc., I tend to think that videochat will remain a
platform-specific domain.]

On Wed, 30 Mar 2005 18:43:30 -0500, Stephen D. Williams <sdw at lig.net> wrote:
> >>MS seems to be preparing for XAML-as-browser-replacement,
> >>which would be great for a Firefox/XUL/Java/OSS solution but scary from
> >>The untrustable Monopolist bad-boy of the IT world.
> >>
> >>
> >
> >This scares me (as a free software developer) more than anything else
> >MS is doing. The web is /the/ killer app; if they succeed in patenting
> >it (which is basically what a XAML-based web would mean) then all
> >other OSs are DOA.
> >
> >
> The flipside is that XUL-like (and AJAX, Flash, Processing et al) 

Two of three still requiring proprietary software, but yes, I grant
the general point.

> have
> just as much chance of making traditional and ineligant
> thick-application development obsolete, seriously undercutting
> architecture affinity upon which such a monopoly depends.  Someone had
> to have looked at XUL and said: "crap, the popularity of HTML and XML
> show that if you could invoke arbitrary infrastructure and application
> logic with XML like HTML pages are used, native applications are dead".
> Or so I imagine.

Certainly that was the line Mozilla was pushing with XUL since pretty
much Day 1 of that project; now that it has higher market penetration
(finally!) it'll be interesting to see if that takes off. My guess is
it won't, for the same reasons that Java+swing hasn't really taken
off- cross-platform GUIs are asstastic.* They don't integrate with new
technology well (see mention of video cameras above), they never look
or feel like other applications on the system, etc. It's just not
worth it to most developers to handicap their application on the
platform of choice (almost always Windows, but increasingly on Mac and
in some cases on Linux) so that they can reach out to those other
platforms. There will be some niches, of course- particularly in cases
like webmail where people want access to the same data across multiple
machines. But I think ATM that is still a niche, and even when it
isn't, XAML will likely fill that better than XUL or other such
technologies will, for most people.


* Mozilla/Firefox is the exception that proves the rule; it's the best
major cross-platform GUI tool ever, and it still only made market
headway after Windows basically failed to update their browser for 4

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