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I don't know if there's a uniform Mozilla position on this, but here's mine! :) The main reason I care about the Web is because it's the world's biggest software platform that isn't owned. If someone can deliver their app to the world without submitting it for review by an app store and without paying a company a %-age of the revenue, and if they can market it through the viral power of URLs, then they have a lot more control over their own destiny. That's why I think it's important for the Web not to give up on hard but solvable problems.

But also I think there's a false dichotomy between "the Web should just be for documents" and "the Web should just be for apps." The Web is simultaneously an application platform that blows all other platforms out of the water for delivering content. First, there's a reason why so many native apps embed WebViews -- despite its warts, CSS is the result of hundreds of person-years of tuning for deploying portable textual content.

But more importantly, you just can't beat the URL. How many more times will we convince the entirety of humanity to know how to visually parse "www.zombo.com" on a billboard or in a text message? It's easy to take the Web for granted, it's fun to snark about its warts, and there's a cottage industry of premature declarations of its death. But I personally believe that the humble little hyperlink is at the heart of the Web's power, competitive strength, and longevity. It was a century-old dream passed on from Vannevar Bush to Doug Englebart to Xerox PARC and ultimately to TBL who made it real.




But more importantly, you just can't beat the URL. How many more times will we convince the entirety of humanity to know how to visually parse "www.zombo.com" on a billboard or in a text message? It's easy to take the Web for granted, it's fun to snark about its warts, and there's a cottage industry of premature declarations of its death. But I personally believe that the humble little hyperlink is at the heart of the Web's power, competitive strength, and longevity. It was a century-old dream passed on from Vannevar Bush to Doug Englebart to Xerox PARC and ultimately to TBL who made it real.

URLs are great, but they don't have to be limited to the web. Or, rather to say, the thing on the other end of the URL doesn't necessarily need to be something the browser handles directly.

I'd like to see something developed that lets you do something like:

    x11://myapp.example.com
where clicking on that link in a browser launches the remote app and then renders the UI locally using X11 remoting - as opposed to trying to render the application UI in the browser.

OK, I know, go ahead and say it.. X11 sucks, X11 remoting doesn't work on WAN links, etc. To which I say:

a. Fine, let's invent something better, that still avoid the need to pack every ounce of functionality in the universe, into a web browser.

and

b. That doesn't jibe with my experience anyway. Just earlier this week I was playing around and decided to launch a remote X app using X forwarding over ssh, over a public Internet link. Worked like a champ. In fact, it reminded me of how fucking awesome X11 remoting really is, and makes me long for either a resurgence of interest in it, OR (see a above) the invention of a newer, better version that everybody can be happy with.

There's also a lot to be said for delivering applications using Java Web Start as well. JWS is wicked cool technology that is tragically under-utilized. IMO, anyway. :-)


That would require plugins which are being phased out and for good reason.

Namely, because they allow something like Adobe Flash Player - which doesn't come close to supporting all the platforms the Web runs on - to become a defacto standard. Thus restricting a large portion of the Web to just a few platforms Adobe wants to support.


That's one way of looking at it. OTOH, not allowing plugins arbitrarily restricts web users to the lowest common denominator of technologies that are supported by browser vendors. Why should I care to have my technology choices dictated by browser vendors any more than I care to have them dictated by Adobe?

That said, nothing about what I'm proposing specifically requires plugins. All it would require would be for the browser vendors to work together (cough, cough, I know, cough cough) to implement a standard mechanism for doing this. Actually, it might not even take that. Browsers already have a way to setup handlers for unsupported content types and what-not, so it might be possible to build what I'm thinking about largely on top of that. Of course it would mean that if you wanted to run an "application" UI you'd have to have a suitable platform (an X server, or something like an X server) running along-side your browser. So you maybe wouldn't be able to run OpenOffice on your smart-phone. OK, personally, I can live with that. Not all devices are equivalent and there's no reason to expect every thing to work one every device.


That's true you don't actually need a browser to do what you're talking about. In fact I'm pretty sure x11 already does this.


> without paying a company a %-age of the revenue

It may not be a %-age of revenue, but you definitely can't host a non-trivial webapp for free either.

You could even argue that in many webapps scaling costs are proportional to revenue, which makes it awfully similar to an app store.

> But also I think there's a false dichotomy between "the Web should just be for documents" and "the Web should just be for apps."

Yeah, I don't have a clear idea on where the web should "end", but wow... web pages able to eat all my cores and have data races seems like a line to be crossed with great caution and care.


> web pages able to eat all my cores

We're already there:

    var code = "while(true){}";
    var Blob = window.Blob;
    var URL = window.webkitURL || window.URL;
    var bb = new Blob([code], {type : 'text/javascript'});
    code = URL.createObjectURL(bb);
    for (var i = 0; i < 8; i += 1) new Worker(code);


> Yeah, I don't have a clear idea on where the web should "end", but wow... web pages able to eat all my cores and have data races seems like a line to be crossed with great caution and care.

We crossed that line long ago (well, not precisely with data races, but with message/event ordering races...)


that presumes that this freedom of self marketing is based on freedom of the internet. there are many countries where internet is restricted and URLs is a part of the restriction filter.




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