Fast Takes
Thursday, October 14, 2004
Open source rich client

David Temkin CTO at Laszlo has made the gutsy move to Open Source. The is the first rich client application that has a chance of widespread adoption and can change the way we deliver client applications

It has two significant features going for it (or soon will have apart from Open Source) that will enable its success. One is the upcoming serverless model, this is critical for scalability and ease of deployment. The second is the use of a plugin to deliver high quality rendering and features that are just not possible with other approaches using DHTML. Using Flash 6.0 plugin ensures that Laszlo applications will run in any browser and can take advantage of platform independent features that DHTML applications just cannot.

The last piece of the puzzle is making it Open Source, I can now recommend that we take full advantage of the platform and know that we do not have any major risk of the technology going away. I fully expect a strong and vibrant community to build around this new client delivery platform. I wish them every success.

Web Things, by Mark Baker

Web Things, by Mark Baker responds to my comment about interfaces. While I agree with his next post around document interfaces I feel strongly that the formalism brought by WSDL allows the specification of public interfaces and requires little else. The public interfaces can be document or rpc style both have their place but the need to have a standard human/machine readable interface description is necessary.

I do however share his and others concerns that WS-xxxx is heading into the same pit of complexity that CORBA descended into. At the time of CORBAs brief hay day I was at Tibco (then Teknekron Software Systems) building loosely coupled self describing message based systems. The lack of interoperability and describable interfaces was a drawback - so we built our own dynamic object language, and our own security etc.... Standards are useful to ensure we all use compatible tools but the tools (standards) should not be over designed as the art is in the wielding of the tools not the tool itself.

Servicing information not software

While I have been a strong advocate for software as a service I have recently begun to modify my views. It is not software that is the driver but rather the information that is processed on behalf of the customer that is critical. Software is just a tool - if we processed the information faster, for less cost and more reliably using a slide rule no one would really care.

To do the job better as a service you need to build deep domain knowledge and continuously develop best practices based on customer involvement. This provides the economic model to make a service model work, not providing software.

As we move into this world software is going to become a non issue as it is becoming essentially free (or close to as a percentage of overall costs), it is now a well defined tool. The number of options for tools and platforms is large and the differences are shades of grey.

The real value of a service based model is going to come from those companies who build services to process information faster, cheaper, and more reliably by using the tools more effectively to process information not the builders of tools and platforms.

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