Why so-called “Web Apps” bug me

I’ve been really really busy lately working on my latest upgrades to OWS. The problem was that after putting in a few million rows into the database, queries took FOREVER. So.. I got myself a few books/articles about OLAP and star schemas and I think I’ve devised a high performance way of storing/retrieving the data. Its not done yet, but once it is I’ll probably write a series of blog posts about it — its some really neat stuff.

But really, what I wanted to mention today is the silliness of a lot of enterprise-level so called “Web Applications”. Prominent examples I can think of that we use/maintain at my workplace are things like Blackboard WebCT, Sungard Banner, and Kronos Workforce Central.

These silly applications call themselves “Web Apps”, but when you go to use them on a brand new computer, they all have the same problem — you need a runtime of some kind to be installed on the computer, or applets, or some other such nonsense. Which really, thats fine and all, but I hate that they call themselves web apps, since they’re just really ‘fat’ applications that happen to run from a web browser. If you need to install something other than a web browser, its NOT a web application anymore (at least, in my opinion). Of course, don’t get me started on the complexity of installing some of the Oracle ‘web’ stuff that some of our people use…. gah.

You know, its funny, most of the capabilities that these applications implement can easily be done using AJAX and javascript technologies — look at google maps, or any one of a number of google products. Or OWS. All of these products act like an application on a desktop, except that they work in the web browser with no strings attached, and will work on a Windows PC or a Mac or Linux… or even a Wii.

These other apps — its not a web application if it only runs on Internet Explorer on Windows (granted, some have firefox plugins too… or use Java, but thats a whole other realm right there ) . At least, not in my book.

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