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I'd like to point out a couple of things about these choices for examples of rich UI libraries: All three of them throw most of the DOM, and reimplement almost everything from scratch: structure, layout, and most behavior (outside of that provided by input elements that can't realistically be implemented by hand). I don't think you can ask for a stronger indictment of the DOM and related APIs with respect to implementing applications.

And that's the problem. It's not [p]NaCl vs. Javascript. It's whether the core APIs are designed for the task, which in the case of web applications they clearly aren't. The most egregious failings of web applications stem directly from bad APIs, and if you look at their counterparts (for example) in iOS and Android, there's absolutely no comparison. A better script engine (and yes, almost anything would be better than Javascript) would be nice, but would do very little to solve the API problem (don't forget that NaCl can't call anything not provided by the browser, so it can't serve as an "escape hatch").

There are those who suggest that the browser APIs are close to "good enough" and just need to be tweaked a bit to make it possible to create good, efficient web apps on par with modern native apps. I'd like that to be the case (my day job is working on browser application tooling and infrastructure), but so far it's not happening where it matters most -- on mobile devices. On the desktop you can usually get away with murder because the machines are so fast (and have so much memory), but on more limited mobile platforms (and by limited I mean ~1GHz ARM with ~0.5G of memory) web apps aren't even close to their native counterparts. There are some laudable attempts out there (e.g. Gmail mobile, the Sencha Touch demos), but if you poke on them a bit you start to notice obvious performance and memory issues (e.g., when Safari Mobile crashes on the iPad it's usually out of memory).

Does this mean native apps in app stores will "win", and the web will "lose"? The web "won" on the desktop (for most kinds of apps, anyway), in spite of its severe limitations, because it provided a reasonably stable platform and super-simple deployment. App stores solve the deployment part of this problem reasonably well, but fail badly at the cross-platform part. Can the web be made "good enough" in time to win again? I don't think anyone can accurately predict the outcome at this point.




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