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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Thick-Clients, Web Apps, and Me...

I have a question for any software developers / engineers / architects out there:

Everyone is going ga-ga for web applications, partly because AJAX has brought thick-client-like behavior to the web client, etc etc. But there is still something to the plain ol' think-client. Downloading an application and running it locally -- it just seems more tasty. A case can be made, too, that thick-client applications haven't fallen behind, and may even be taking a somewhat new form: the portable application. With portable applciations, no installation is necessary; just unzip and run. Data is stored relative to the application's execution path. And by carrying said application on, say, a USB stick, the data is persistent and the application can be run anywhere (so long as on the same operating system, which leads to another item of discussion).

So the question is:
Do you think thick-client applications are more "popular" than web apps with the general public? That is, may there possibly be a preference by the average user for a local application vs. a web application?

I'd have to say that there is, perhaps only subconsciously, but there is. So long have we all had to use applications "locally" that, even with fantastic Google applications, we find ways to integrate them into our existant local applications. I am writing this entry now using w.bloggar from my thumb drive, not via the web interface provided by Blogger. My wife uses Picasa frequently -- the downloaded application. Google offered a Microsoft Outlook calendar syncing tool, which, combined with forwarding GMail to a Hotmail account and using Office Outlook Connector, has provided me with a "virtual" Exchange service.

The next great revolution could come with a portable JVM written in Java (he he), which could then run applications from a thumb drive on any computer, no matter the OS.

Anyways, your thoughts all?

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