They Killed the Web! The Bastards!

Filed under Software Architecture, VB Feng Shui

The web as we know it is in its death throws.

Um, right.

I just read the Guest Opinion in the latest Visual Studio Magazine. It’s by Rockford Lhotka, who I have a lot of respect for. But this piece was a little off.

He basically claims that “the web as we know it is finally coming to an end”. Why, you may ask?

  • Is it the impending rollout of IPV6?
  • Maybe some new 3d “navigator” (as in the-chess-set-on-the-millenium-falcon 3d, not yet-another-2d-window-into-a-virtual-3d-space 3d)?
  • Or maybe there’s a new “brain driven” interface I hadn’t heard of?

No.

It’s Silverlight. and Atlas.

Sigh.

According to Rockford, AJAX is the “last gasp of a dying technology”. He argues that at some point, “either the browser transforms into a full blown programming platform or we find another answer”, and that answer, apparently is SilverLight.

Now, don’t get me wrong. SilverLight is pretty slick, as long as you don’t try to find any examples of actual web apps written in it. You know, the kind that people would use as opposed to just play with for 5 seconds. There’s tons of nice animated displays synched to music and pretty graphics of pages flipping, but where’s the data driven samples, or the reporting grids, or the company dashboards, etc?

Not only that, but hasn’t the web already got a “launch point to load something that is a programming platform”. I thought it was called Flash? And flash has certainly not brought the end of the Web nigh. Hell, it’s harder and harder to find sites that even bother with it anymore.

And SilverLight is from Microsoft, so you can bet that, even if they initially support a plethora of browsers and systems, eventually, it’ll get whittled down to Windows Voyeur (or whatever they’ll be calling the new version in 5 years).

Rockford makes a good point about technologies lasting upwards of around 10 years before being replaced by newer, better concepts. Things like COM, Win32, and CORBA. Things like ISA, the serial and parallel port, and ATA IDE. Things like hard drives, mice, qwerty keyboards, text files and relational DBMSs…. Oh wait.

I’d lay money that the next “big thing,” the thing that “kills the web as we know it” and ushers in a new era similar to the internet age of the 90’s, will not come from a big house like Microsoft, or IBM, or even Xerox. It’ll come from some dedicated hacker like Marc Andreeson or Bram Cohen. It’ll start off small. Hardly anyone will use it, kinda like Google back in, oh, 1999. And it’ll probably have a goofy name, nothing as cleanly futuristic as “SilverLight”.

Until then, I’d say the odds are long on HTML, Javascript, Ajax, etc, going poof.

One Comment

  1. Ralf says:

    Agreed, Totally. Either he’s been sipping the Microsoft Kool-Aid or has bought into the "next big thing" meme that most everyone fall for occasionally. As you note, even the honest Big Things we’ve experienced started off slowly and sometimes gained momentum quickly, but often took years to become pervasive. Even Google didn’t revolutionize anything overnight.

    Big systems have inertia, which is why we’re not all driving hybrid cars now and why analog TV is still more prevalent than HDTV, a decade after the switch was thrown.

    What WILL the Next Big Thing be? I have no idea. I doubt anyone does. Let’s watch and see.

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