The browser is a beautiful thing

The idea of the browser as a universal user interface is neither new nor revolutionary.  Many commentators have discussed the idea since the beginning of the century.  After all, it is the natural next step in the evolution of the Internet and has precedence on the desktop which we have all witnessed.

Much the same way Microsoft Windows started life as a veneer on top of Microsoft DOS, only to grow into a full featured native OS, the browser started life and grew on top of a variety of host operating systems and will eventually emerge as a native OS on a number of hardware platforms.

Morfik has been a supporter of this concept since its inception.  We published white papers on the subject as early as 2005 and even called our product WebOS AppsBuilder to emphasize the point.  However, for Morfik, Web OS has a much broader definition.  To us, it is the web in its entirety that is the operating system and the browser its universal user interface.

Google’s announcement of Chrome OS and the release of its first beta will no doubt be followed by similar announcements by other players.  What Gmail and Google Maps did for the proliferation of Ajax, Chrome OS may do for the recognition of the browser as the universal platform.  In our opinion, the most important contribution of Chrome OS is the demonstration of the fact that with the browser as the standard universal interface, the underlying services that manage the hardware devices are irrelevant to the user and the developer, and only of concern to the hardware manufacturer.  In other words there will be no OS wars this time!

The browser is a beautiful thing.  Applications posted on the Chrome Experiments website show the amazing possibilities of the new HTML 5 standard and what can be achieved with pure HTML and JavaScript.

The only danger ahead is the possible renewed attempts by vendors to beat a proprietary path inside the browser with plug-in technologies. The HTML5 standard gives us the ability to free ourselves from the plug-in trap but it falls on developers and users to insist on exclusive use of standards, to avoid the fragmentation of the market, for the benefit of all.  Morfik is committed and will certainly support such an effort.

4 Responses to “The browser is a beautiful thing”

October 23rd, 2017
Bee says:

@Siamack Yousofi:
Why Morfik has to wait for web OS definition to be settled first? Why not just provide both models out-of-the-box now? So users could choose whatever model they need. By only providing the first model (single page for single application), you had already lost some potential customers, me as the example. Be the leader, be the trend setter! I thought it was the main spirit of Morfik, being the leader of RAD development for web application. No?

Besides, I believe the definition won’t be settled any time soon. As we all know, there are too many standards and definitions on web development which one can contradict the other. For not trying to be the leader, or just become a follower, Morfik would also lost some potential markets as they already on the other boats that already provide similar tool. eyeOS has already provided development tool for them.

You don’t need to predict the outcome of the second model web OS, it’s already being used everywhere. But since they are web applications (not web page), it’s hard to find published examples of them, most of them even run on secured and closed networks. But I know such model has been used in a lot of places. The demand is already here!

Another major lack of Morfik is, IMO, it doesn’t provide binding for mature and well proven JS UI framework out there i.e. ExtJS, Qooxdoo, JQueryUI, etc. On the other side, Morfik doesn’t provide all required advanced UI controls. Why the users have to build all the UI controls from the scratch by themselves? For example, ExtJS’ grid is awesome. I’m not yet mention comet/meteor support. So, there are still many things Morfik has to catch up.

Of course, I agree that browser is indeed a beautiful thing. 🙂

P.S. If the existing application has API for external access, it just need to rework the UI part. If not, then provide one. 🙂

Bee

The idea of web desktop or WebTop has been around for more than a decade and has a very avid following. As you mentioned Morfik architecture can support both models that you have described. In fact in term of performance and scalability Morfik server-side code, which is compiled into server’s native code, should have no problem outperforming interpreted PHP server-side code used by eyeOS.

As a tool maker, Morfik’s primary focus is to provide a professional tool that can help its customers, the web developers, make a living. For us browser and server have equal roles to play hence the title of this blog. Morfik leaves it to the developer to decide between all-server, all-browser and anywhere-in-between computing model.

As the dust settles on the WebOS definition a wining platform will appear and Morfik can and will adapt to market forces as required. If the second model you described emerges as the market choice, so be it. Incidentally, we agree with eyeOS approach of “no browser plug-ins”.

It is too early to predict the exact outcome and the end-user psychology regarding location of personal data, privacy, security and off-line limitations play an all important role.

The good news is since Morfik output is pure HTML and JavaScript, it can help web developers make a living now and well into the future no matter in which direction the market takes us.

I still think the browser is a beautiful thing 🙂

P.S. I was wondering, in the second model you described and the WebOS you are developing what will happen to existing web content and applications?

Bee says:

Agree that “Web OS” term has much broader definition. In its context of the browser and UI, I try to group those definitions into 2:

1. Browser as the desktop of Web OS. An URL is the representative of an application, similar to the executable file in conventional (native) OS. A user choose the “executable” and “run” it through the address bar of a web browser. The tabs is the representative of taskbar in conventional (native) OS which is used to switch among running applications. In this definition, a user must remember or bookmark (shortcut?) the location of the “executable”. The more applications s/he need to use, the more shorcuts s/he need to be remembered or bookmarked. If the application requires an authorization (login) then the users must remember many accounts. That’s why OpenID is made in the first place, to share an account across applications. This approach gives “single page for single application” user experience. This is what commonly done nowadays, including by Morfik.

2. Browser as the OS container and the page as the desktop of the Web OS. An URL is the representative of an online OS, similar to virtualized OS in a conventional (native) OS using OS virtualizer (VirtualBox, VMWare, etc). A user choose which “OS” s/he needs and “loads” it through the address bar of a web browser. In this approach, web browser isn’t the OS, just like VirtualBox isn’t the OS. The browser acts as a launcher and container of an OS, just like VirtualBox loads an OS. The “true” OS in this approach is provided by the remote server. Just like a conventional OS, the remote OS would return a complete OS environment within a page, including the start menu, the taskbar, the application window, application manager, task manager, application install/uninstall mechanism, built-in user management, etc. This approach gives “single page for multi applications” user experience. It also gives multitasking experience to the users. This is what being achieved by eyeOS.org but not yet commonly done by other parties.

I myself prefer the second approach. And I’m not alone on this. It seems that the trend of web application (not web page) paradigm is moving to that way. Unfortunately, this approach is not (yet) supported by Morfik. This is my biggest reason why I left Morfik in the past. Morfik already has had the technology for the second approach since the server side is a native application which would be able to handle multithread and multitasking effectively. It just need to surface its capability and provide the second approach right into the framework.

For the business benefit, the second approach offers more opportunities and challanges. Using the second approach, I could run a walled garden business where my users only need to login into a single URL (which then acts as an online web OS) to get all applications they need. All of the application is just a click away, just like on conventional OS. No need to bookmark hundreds of URLs, or to remember many login accounts. Users only need to pay the applications that they “install” in their account.

For other developers, I could provide an appstore-like environment for them. If they want to sell an application onto my users, they could build an application for my web OS (of course, I would provide the API and SDK). Once their application is approved, it goes to the appstore repository, then my users could see it through the appstore publisher. My users would need to purchase it to be able to install and use it in their account. So, I have two markets: users market and developer market.

Now, I’m starting to build my own web OS engine (using the second approach) utilizing FreePascal for the server side and ExtJS for the browser side (UI part). I know it would requires a lot of work, but I don’t have any other options. If Morfik would provide the second approach within the next 1 or 2 years, I think I don’t need to (continue) build my own web OS engine. I’ll use Morfik instead, because I know Morfik’s technology is already able to do that.

What do you think?

Aquiles Rodriguez says:

Everything what you say is true, but a care with the introducing of the pair access and sharepoint 2010.

Morfik still it achieves a good datagrid as the datasheets of access, neither to interact with documents of Office like excel, word, etc.

In any company there is a lot of dispersed information in documents of Office and thither it must be going morfik, to integrate this information, graphs, etc.

Another important point is the deploy in mobile telephones, the future is mobile and I think that Microsoft returns to stick hard with sharepoint 2010 and Access 2010 due that work connected or disconnected to/from server.

Morfik must prioritize the managing of information over the design, already we achieve a good tool of design, now we go towards an excellent tool of managing of information with data controls (grids, charts, calendars, export/import excel, send and receive sms, etc). and sharepoint too !!
why don’t ?

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