Saturday, March 06, 2021
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Web Development Tools

If you haven't yet seen the Adobe Thermo demo check it out in this 3 part video series from MAX, Adobe's annual tech-fest.
Part 1(of 3)



More videos (parts 2 & 3)


The coming challenge to Adobe's Flash is Microsoft's Silverlight. Like Flash, Silverlight is a browser plug-in with the objective of delivering a new type of web experience that is consistent across browsers because it is not dependent on HTML, CSS, JavaScript and other client-side technologies that are implemented differently in each browser.  The goal for Flash, Silverlight and similar browser plug-ins is to deliver an identical user experience regardless of the container.

Flash of course has a huge lead in installed base. Even Microsoft continues to use Flash on its own website and in promotional materials.

Microsoft's Expression
suite of development tools (Web, Blend, Design, Media) are designed to streamline the web development process from end-to-end.  Despite the idea that software development should start with things like wire-frames, business analysis and other rigorous strictures we all know this is not how most development happens.  A designer is asked to mock-up some screen designs, which then proceeds to a prototype, followed by some testing and finally a business analysis and formal design to "fix" the deficiencies of the original mock-ups.

It is quite common to see a prototype thrown aside when it comes time for application development.  Both Adobe and Microsoft are trying to address this problem.  Adobe has a reputation for producing designer friendly tools, Microsoft for programmer friendly tools.  Adobe made its mark making tools for the MAC then realized that porting its tools to Windows would bring great returns. They also recognized a great opportunity in the web so they bought Macromedia and with it Flash. 

Microsoft made its mark with Office and servers for business then found that owning the desktop is not enough, so they gave us Internet Explorer and FrontPage. Both companies know that the competition for the future centers on the web, and technologies that will bridge the desktop-to-web divide. The fact is that Microsoft’s competition is not Adobe, its Google.  But Adobe’s competition is Microsoft.  So it seems that Google and Adobe have a common competitor.

So what else is out there for developing AJAX and .Net web apps? Take a look at Visual WebGUI by Gizmox. It promises a lot... "Visual WebGui replaces all of the ASP.NET methodologies which were designed for developing sites, with WinForms methodologies, which were designed for developing applications."  It's open source, supports SilverLight, promises to bypass the need for programming client-side JavaScript (it uses a thin client) and "Deploy your Visual WebGui application as a desktop application or a web application enjoying the best of both worlds." Basically it’s AJAX on steroids.

And if you want to use Adobe's Flex as a cross platform app development tool take a look at WebORB from MidNight Coders, which promises "connectivity between rich clients created with Flex, Flash or AJAX and server-side applications developed with .NET, Java, Ruby on Rails, PHP or XML Web Services."

Microsoft has a plan for moving out to the web in bigger and better ways.  Does Google have a plan for moving to the desktop, or are they just waiting for Microsoft to play their game on the Internet, their home turf?  Waiting is never a good idea and Google looks like they are very busy, but they are not going head-to-head with Microsoft on the desktop…. Yet.

So where does that leave us? Let's see... Microsoft buys Yahoo, Google buys, um, Adobe!  Microsoft gets a declining portal and some marketing muscle, Google gets some great graphics and design tools, some server technology, RIA (rich internet application) development tools (Flex is already open source), Flash in every browser and mobile device, and AIR as a gateway to the desktop.

Looks like 2008 could be very interesting!