I’ve added a few more articles over on Bright Hub:
… the Mac version of Chrome will use a WebCore-rendered bitmap to pass between the browser and rendering processes. The strategy we use in Hypercube (and now Stainless) is far less ambitious, but a whole lot easier to do and, thus, available today for your downloading pleasure (for Leopard only, sorry).
- Performs well – It loads Web pages quickly. And as “ps -alx | grep -i stainless” indicates, Stainless really is a multiprocess browser for OS X. For me, this alone makes Stainless worth the effort.
- Supports AJAX – I’m writing this blog post using Google Docs via Stainless. Stainless worked fine on my initial tests with other Google productivity apps – I tested Google Spreadsheets and GMail. I therefore have some level of comfort in proclaiming it as supporting AJAX. Nice!
At the Search Engine Strategies Conference in August 2006, in an informal conversation, Google CEO Eric Schmidt stated:
What’s interesting [now] is that there is an emergent new model, and you all are here because you are part of that new model. I don’t think people have really understood how big this opportunity really is. It starts with the premise that the data services and architecture should be on servers. We call it cloud computing – they should be in a “cloud” somewhere. And that if you have the right kind of browser or the right kind of access, it doesn’t matter whether you have a PC or a Mac or a mobile phone or a BlackBerry or what have you – or new devices still to be developed – you can get access to the cloud. There are a number of companies that have benefited from that. Obviously, Google, Yahoo!, eBay, Amazon come to mind. The computation and the data and so forth are in the servers.
My interpretation of cloud computing is summarized in the following figure.
Yesterday, I introduced the concept of Synced-Data Applications (SDAs). SDAs are summarized in the following figure.
I recently asked: Is desktop software is dead?
Increasingly, I am of the opinion that desktop software is well on its way to extinction.
In its place, Synced-Data Applications (SDAs) have emerged.
One of the best examples I’ve recently run across is Evernote. Native Evernote applications exist for desktops (as well as handhelds) and for the cloud (e.g., via a Web browser). Your data is replicated between the cloud (in this example, Evernote’s Webstores) and your desktop(s)/handheld(s). Synced-Data Applications.
And with Google Gears, Google Docs has also entered the SDA software paradigm.
With SDAs, it’s not just about the cloud, and it’s not just about the desktop/handheld. It’s all about the convergence that this software paradigm brings.
A revised version of the figure I shared in the previous post on this thread is included below.
Once again, it emphasizes that interest is focused on the convergence between the isolated realm of the desktop/handheld on the one hand, and the cloud (I previously referred to this as the network) on the other.
It’s much, much less about commercial versus Open Source software. And yes, I remain unaware of SDA examples that live purely in the Open Source realm …
When was the last time you were impressed by desktop software?
After seeing (in chronological order) Steve Jobs, Al Gore and Tim Bray make use of Apple Keynote, I absolutely had to give it a try. And impressed I was – and to some extent, still am. For me, this revelation happened about a year ago. I cannot recall the previous instance – i.e., the time I was truly impressed by desktop software.
- Wikipedia states: “There is no page titled “desktop software”.” What?! I suppose you could argue I’m hedging my bets by choosing an obscure phrase (not!), but seriously, it is remarkable that there is no Wikipedia entry for “desktop software”!
- Microsoft, easily the leading purveyor of desktop software, is apparently in trouble. Although Gartner’s recent observations target Microsoft Windows Vista, this indirectly spells trouble for all Windows applications as they rely heavily on the platform provided by Vista.
- There’s an innovation’s hiatus. And that’s diplomatically generous! Who really cares about the feature/functionality improvements in, e.g., Microsoft Office? When was the last time a whole new desktop software category appeared? Even in the Apple Keynote example I shared above, I was impressed by Apple’s spin on presentation software. Although Keynote required me to unlearn habits developed through years of use Microsoft PowerPoint, I was under no delusions of having entered some new genre of desktop software.
- Thin is in! The bloatware that is modern desktop software is crumbling under its own weight. It must be nothing short of embarrassing to see this proven on a daily basis by the likes of Google Docs. Hardware vendors must be crying in their beers as well, as for years consumers have been forced to upgrade their desktops to accommodate the latest revs of their favorite desktop OS and apps. And of course, this became a negatively reinforcing cycle, as the hardware upgrades masked the inefficiencies inherent in the bloated desktop software. Thin is in! And thin, these days, doesn’t necessarily translate to a penalty in performance.
- Desktop software is reaching out to the network. Despite efforts like Microsoft Office Online, the lacklustre results speak for themselves. It’s 2008, and Microsoft is still playing catch up with upstarts like Google. Even desktop software behemoth Adobe has shown better signs of getting it (network-wise) with recent entres such as Adobe Air. (And of course, with the arrival of Google Gears, providers of networked software are reaching out to the desktop.)
The figure below attempts to graphically represent some of the data points I’ve ranted about above.
In addition to providing a summary, the figure suggests:
- An opportunity for networked, Open Source software. AFAIK, that upper-right quadrant is completely open. I haven’t done an exhaustive search, so any input would be appreciated.
- A new battle ground. Going forward, the battle will be less about commercial versus Open Source software. The battle will be more about desktop versus networked software.
So: Is desktop software dead?
Feel free to chime in!
To Do for Microsoft: Create a Wikipedia entry for “desktop software”.
I learned yesterday that the manuscript I submitted to HPCS 2008 was not accepted 😦
It may take my co-authors and I some time before this manuscript is revised and re-submitted.
This anticipated re-submission latency, along with the fact that we believe the content needs to be shared in a timely fashion, provides the motivation for sharing the manuscript online.
To whet your appetite, the abstract is as follows:
Evolving a Semantic Framework into a Network-Enabled Semantic Platform
A data-oriented semantic framework has been developed previously for a project involving a network of globally distributed scientiﬁc instruments. Through the use of this framework, the semantic expressivity and richness of the project’s ASCII data is systematically enhanced as it is successively represented in XML (eXtensible Markup Language), RDF (Resource Description Formal) and ﬁnally as an informal ontology in OWL (Web Ontology Language). In addition to this representational transformation, there is a corresponding transformation from data into information into knowledge. Because this framework is broadly applicable to ASCII and binary data of any origin, it is appropriate to develop a network-enabled semantic platform that identiﬁes the enabling semantic components and interfaces that already exist, as well as the key gaps that need to be addressed to completely implement the platform. After brieﬂy reviewing the semantic framework, a J2EE (Java 2 Enterprise Edition) based implementation for a network-enabled semantic platform is provided. And although the platform is in principle usable, ongoing adoption suggests that strategies aimed at processing XML via parallel I/O techniques are likely an increasingly pressing requirement.
I’ve just upgraded to Firefox 3 Beta 4.
The spreadsheets component of Google Docs appears to work now. And although this suggests improvements in AJAX support, a known issue with GMail contacts remains:
GMail (new version) conversation labels appear on their own row in the message list, and names don’t show in the contacts manager (bug 415252)
This GMail bug remains a showstopper for me.
Of course, it’s important to remember that
Firefox 3 Beta 4 is a developer preview release of Mozilla’s next generation Firefox browser and is being made available for testing purposes only.
I just downloaded Firefox 3 Beta 3 for Mac OS X Leopard.
- It looks great!
- It’s fast! In some cases, blazingly fast! Page renderings, downloads, etc.
- Its AJAX support is very weak! This is a showstopper for me, as I use a number of AJAX-based applications. Although the word processing aspect of Google Docs appears to work, the spreadsheet capability isn’t quite there yet. And surprisingly, when I opened my GMail contacts, none of them appeared!
- Its add-on support is weak. This isn’t too surprising, I suppose, and is perhaps somewhat unfair to mention at this point. However, none of my add-ons work with this release, so I thought it was worth noting.
Update (February 10, 2009): See Sync Google Calendar and Gmail Contacts with Your BlackBerry for a recent How To guide to the Google Sync for the BlackBerry solution.
In just over fourteen months, one of my posts has received almost 19% of the views for my entire blog.
- Read-only access – You can’t enter contact information from the GMail client on the BlackBerry. In time, we’ll want this. Like tomorrow!
- Online-access only – You need your contacts when you’re off line? Like when you’re on an airplane? Until this client includes Google Gears functionality or equivalent, you’re out of luck here. I think I can live with that. For now. Because ultimately I would appreciate the ability to compose email when I’m off line. I do that frequently with the BlackBerry’s built-in mail client.
- Contacts in too many places – Fragmenting contacts between your Google ‘verse and enterprise messaging platform (e.g., Microsoft Exchange, IBM Lotus Notes, etc.) has some disadvantages. However, as I’ve learned directly on the heels of personal experience, there are times when it’s wise to have some separation between our personal and corporate selves …
This gives me a lot of what I was looking for.
A few days ago I upgraded to version 18.104.22.1680 of the GMail client for my BlackBerry 8130. (This is a native, stand-alone, J2ME client application. In other words, it does not require a Web browser.) Previously, and for the past few months, I’ve been using version 1.1.x of this same client.
- Contact manager – This is the most significant feature/functionality enhancement. On opening the contact manager, a display of those with whom you interact with the most is presented. There’s also a search functionality that allows you to rapidly retrieve any of your contacts in the familiar way. And of course, should you wish, you can list all of your contacts. Once you’ve selected a contact from the “Most Contacted” list or via search, your contact’s details are presented. Just below the contact details is a link that allows you to display recent conversations with the identified contact. Very powerful. Very Google. Very nice! All of this means that you can initiate a new conversation or pick up on an existing one from the contact manager.
- Notification – The notification capability is also a significant enhancement in my estimation. What this means is that an icon resembling a bottle cap appears over top of the GMail client icon to indicate the arrival of new mail. This capability is integrated with your BlackBerry profile so you can associate in and out-of-holster behaviors to signal the arrival of new mail. The only thing missing now is the summary icon that is displayed by other applications in the upper-right corner of the BlackBerry’s screen. This capability is enabled via a new setting; select “More”, then “Settings” before placing a check mark against the notification option. There are a few more settings that are new to me – one allows for larger fonts, while the other allows for the “Sent from my mobile device” tag line.
- Finish Later – In the event that you are unable to finish composing a message, this version allows you to finish composition later. Note however, that only one draft can be saved. This is a welcome addition that I found myself pining for in previous releases.