XML News from Friday, April 24, 2009

The W3C Web Applications Working Group has published first public working drafts of specifications for APIs that enhance the open Web platform as a runtime environment for full-featured applications:

The Web Storage, Web Sockets API, and Server-Sent Events specifications were previously published as parts of the HTML 5 specification, but will now each become Recommendation-track deliverables within the Web Applications Working Group.

If we ultimately succeed in recreating the full desktop experience on the Web, is it still the Web? Or have we just finally succeeded in abstracting out the operating system and the platform?

I think the answer is yes is, and only if, URL addressability is maintained. If each individual screen of an application is an independently URL addressable resource, and if the back button still works, then it's the Web. (I need to flesh this out more with some examples. That's not quite correct.) Otherwise it's just standard application development with different APIs, a different language, and a somewhat improved delivery mechanism. Not that this is a bad thing in all cases, but it's not the Web. More than HTML, more even than HTTP, the Web is about URLs. For example a Web 2.0 slideshow app should have separate URLs for each and every slide in each and every slide show. Just going to http://slideshow.example.org/, logging in to choose a user, and running an RIA in a browser window is not the Web. Too many Web 2.0 apps today are just weak desktop apps that run in the browser. Web 2.0 needs to be a superset of Web 1.0, not something completely different.