Let me call your attention to two most telling articles. The first one is about bigG and it’s browser and the other one is about Adobe’s first very own release of Flash. It all sucks. Right, i said it.
Let’s begin with Flash. It’s got a 3D API. Do i need to say anything else?
Flash begun it’s path to glory as a means to push animation through the very low bandwidth of the internet of yore, it was a cool thing because it was lightweight. It was supposed to be very light.
Now whenever i see my computer starting it’s fan i can go around and will certainly find a browser window with some flash running. Flash became a HOG. It is heavy, it is full to the brink with features (A.K.A. bloat), and it wants to be everything to everybody.
Well, that’s not so bad, is it? After all, HTML has become everything to everyone through the web, has it not?
Which brings me to the other article, on OS News, which is a commentary on the state of the web of sorts, which went on-line just days after Google launched Chrome, despite being mostly written earlier. It does a very, very cool analysis of BigG and you should really read it if you are interested in the net or the web at all.
Which basically amounts to: yes, Flash is a monster and we should all bow down and use it and be happy. Or give me something akin to Flash.
What i am trying to say is: there is a trend in the web and it is not good! and this trend is to make everything more complex, more serious, more developer-oriented, more splashy and full of effects, more good-sounding-to-investors, and it all sinks. More to the point, it all goes contrary to not only what were the presumed philosophy of the web, but also to what makes it thick.
To exemplify: Bitland says MS will probably find “automagical” ways to make every Silverlight app export it’s content directly to Live Search (or provide an API!) and that would be a big strike on BigG, that BigG is trying to fight the development of other platforms for “Rich Internet Applications” because this makes searching more difficult…
But let’s not forget that it was the creation of HTML that made search plausible at all. In other words, you can develop ways to index applications, and you can provide APIs for that, and you can go as complex as you like, but if search is an API or a protocol (as opposed to just one more way to use the underlying system) it does not make much sense. It was the fact that HTML exposed everything as content that made search relevant at all.
In this sense, Bitland is right that an ecosystem of RIAs only (depending on technologies like FLEX or Silverlight) would hurt Google. But it would hurt everyone else too. It would hurt the web.
And i do not mean that because of search. The thing is: to play to an common least denominator (in the case of HTML: ASCII and now UTF-8 but not quite still there) actually is a good thing. Interface is data, or we could make interface to become data and it worked. It was a good thing to make interface data, despite it making no sense at first sight.
It is a overused example, i know, but when you are installing linux from a very old CD you can still fire lynx and browse from the command line. It works.
And more than that, HTML allowed things that worked throughout the whole ecosystem. From the lynx to the Palm Blazer (the worse browser ever to the full blown os-based-on-XULrunner. It is the “degrade gracefully” thing, and it kinda works, in the end. The very idea is meaningless once you give up HTML and “just move on” to a “better platform”. HTML is not a platform, it is a data format. And it is enough.
But to say “OK, time’s up for that HTML fling, let’s move on to serious applications” is a mistake. It is a step backwards, instead of forward. Even is, feature-wise, HTML is lacking. It is not features that matter, but what you can do with the technology. And in that regard, the least common denominator approach worked wonders.
If the web was supposed to go the path of the framework, there were other more suitable approaches, eons ago. The difference between Gohper and HTML was that Gopher was actually more a framework and HTML more a data format.
But, basically, the new ActionScript is just that, they trying for the “big serious” language when the small curious one rockz more. Can no one see it?
This trend is not an native (or “natural”) development. It is just some people trying to go on and profit over somethings they do not understand. Not wanting to go a “Die Corporations Die!” line here, but all this is emphasizing the “respectable” side instead of the “creative” one. In the end it stresses the “useful” in the short term but becomes “useless” in the long run. And that sucks.
I don’t think this is the apocalypse and that the Web is doomed, but i do think we should start trying to see “trends” in more creative ways, with curious eyes. We need to ask “why HTTP WRITE method didn’t happen?” instead of “which new APIs are needed?”…