The Web App Revolution

Reading an article by Om Malik in this month's Business 2.0 magazine earlier today, I began thinking of the successful web application and the future of the web. As broadband connectivity becomes cheaper and faster, there will be an undeniable movement towards the flurry of web-based applications that are sprouting up everywhere. The computer might evolve into nothing more than a terminal to your online applications/operating system.

This all became more personal for me this week as I wrote a school paper on Google Docs. And you know what, I actually enjoyed it. It all makes sense too - I always have my web browser open, so why not write my paper in it instead of toggling back and forth between a word processor. I was able to "publish" the document and send the link to people in my group for them to read my document as I wrote it. If my group had decided on a meeting in the library, it would have been as simple as saving the gDoc and resuming on any computer in the library. Once I was ready to upload the paper to the class website, I was able to export to PDF with one click. However, I seem to think that Google Docs has a problem with recognizing double-spacing when exporting to PDF.

Google Docs

The push for online office suites is quickly creating tangible products. I no longer have random *.txt files floating around my desktop for good songs I heard on the radio or notes from class. I have begun archiving them with services like Google Docs & Spreadsheets.

I find myself relying less and less on real applications to get the job done. The only problem is that I have all of these accounts to remember - one for Google Docs, one for ZohoShow (for the few times I need to do stuff with ppt files), etcetera. However, I don't think web applications will be able to replace every real application. For example, iTunes won't have any online competition until everyone gets a fiber connection to their house and creating a web application capable of what Photoshop can do would be nothing short of impossible.

For the longest time, I was supremely skeptical of online office suites and web apps vying to replace real applications. I think my opinion has started to change, especially as these web applications are now backed by large firms pushing for their success. How do you feel about these types of web apps? Do you check them out once, say "oh, that's neat" and never return... or do you really use them?

Speaking of web applications, I hope to develop a site or at least some helpful articles here, aimed at helping the beginner create their own web applications. With some basic PHP and MySQL knowledge I was quickly able to create a small web application for an Information Design class project and thought it would be easy to show others how they can do the same.