Archive for the ‘Ajax’ Category

SilverLight: Microsoft’s labs back on track?

June 2, 2007

Microsoft is coming with a video media player for the web, called SilverLight. Looks very much like flash but with lots of vitamins for 3D animations mixed with videos.. :

“Microsoft® Silverlight™ is a cross-browser, cross-platform plug-in for delivering the next generation of .NET based media experiences and rich interactive applications for the Web. Silverlight offers a flexible programming model that supports AJAX, VB, C#, Python, and Ruby, and integrates with existing Web applications. Silverlight supports fast, cost-effective delivery of high-quality video to all major browsers running on the Mac OS or Windows.”

Some thoughts about this technology:

Pros:

  • really cool, amazing user experience (better than flash)
  • runs in all  browsers (like flash)
  • 3D
  • runs server side on IIS and Apache…

Cons:

  • .NET development… How are they going to convert all the creative guys who already work with Flash? They rarely know much about server side development and C# is unlikely to be their favourite language… But let’s wait and see what Microsoft has put in the box for them…
  • doesn’t seem possible to do much with php with this environment… Microsoft closed box again…
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May 15, 2007

interesting post about widgets and mashups.

http://blogs.zdnet.com/Hinchcliffe/?p=106

Looks like the time of the “standardised widget” is slowly coming, with the W3C spec http://www.w3.org/TR/widgets-reqs/ . Let’s hope platforms developers soon agree on  a common format. This will not only have an impact on the widget world but on all client side developments, as it will be a kind of application level HTTP ORB…

About Ajax toolkits…

December 13, 2006

lots of toolkits are available today. They are cool but what we need is not necessarly cool effects (although some could help) but a framework that allows us to create our own widgets. So the question is not which toolkit to use but more which kind of design patterns or standard in writing a widget.  There are a few basic issues that are solved in these toolkits (like how to load libraries, how to link a html element and a JS class, what format to use for a class etc.) and the community should focus first on these points instead of trying to offer toolkits thaht have been writing for a specific context (i can’t see any that I can apply in my applications). We need design patterns and widget coding guidelines, not toolkits.. In the meantime, the only library I find useful – as a standard – is prototype.js … 🙂

Google widgets and Office2.0

October 18, 2006

Google has released a new API for integrating its wdgets in any website. !!!!!!

Which impact can we expect from this news?

On the short term, probably not much except in personal home pages as most of these widgets are “cool” but not very useful, at least for commercial websites. It is unlikely we see these widgets soon on corporate portals, except maybe for some of them like map searches, etc..

However the impact will probably be to awake the web to this type of technology which is:

  • a piece of information displayed in component made of html and javascript (easy to write),
  • this type of component can run on the desktop, in a website or on google portal.

Obviously we don’t really want to include google stuff everywhere, but when product developers realise that they can apply the same type of technology for THEIR own components, then we can expect that the next wave, right after AJAX, will be based on a type of architecture where the content can be freed from website pages. Pieces of content will appear simultaneously:

  • in collaborative websites where users can manage them in a central place,
  • on desktops in widgets frameworks (google/Y! etc.) : so that we can be notified of any new article without opening the website (convenient as side popups can display news without distracting too much user’s attention)
  • in other syndicated websites: similar to RSS feeds which allow content notification to be displayed in RSS readers thus increasing the visibility of the content. We could also with this technology foresee websites exchanging applications modules as a kind of marketing tool. Content syndication will then not only be limited to xml or text forms but will include applications as well (just like Google maps are included in websites).

Is this impact limited to Google only?

probably not. We can expect Yahoo to release a web API and jump onto the mashup train. This new branding channel is too good to be left to a competitor…

This architecture will probably be most useful when provided by other “independent” widget frameworks such as http://www.widgetbox.com/ (mentioned in Reuters news).  although this one does not yet provide a desktop engine for running its widgets and then is limiting their use to online mashup pages only.

Conclusion:

this technology is not yet advanced enough for commercial use but will probably be added to the Ajax-web2.0 pot soon (1-2 years?) so it might be interesting to keep an open eye on its progress…

We can also expect to see other widget engines to come up as well as there might be a dormant commercial market for it and current vendors provide solution targeting more personnal sites than commercial sites. Such a vendor would benefit from the technology awareness provided by Google and heat it up by real applications…

Office 2.0

October 15, 2006

Office 2.0 is starting, with Google and Zoho as leaders of Office 2.0 conference. Obvioulsy we are eager to know where this new episode of the web is going to and which tools and standards will be around in 2 years time.

Most companies need this type of software today as a large part of employees can be online at work, at home or on the road. It is too early to see where this is going as this type of software is still in infancy. But we can list a few criterias that will help deciphering this area:

  • integration of the the software suite: is the product well packaged?
  • complete? : have we got enough module types to cover main office applications
  • modularity: can we extract a software module (ex. spreadsheet) and use it in another environment (mashup).
  • extensibility: how easy is it to create a new module and add it to the software suite.
  • cost

Evaluating Zoho:

Currently we can see that Zoho does very well in terms of integration and is fairly complete. Cost is fair and most businesses can afford it.

However I haven’t seen any API for developing new modules. A company who needs the software and requires quite a few bespoke modules would probably have an issue with Zoho.

Also it is unlikely we will see any module used in a mashup.

Conclusion: this type of software is nice to use and looks professional. It can probably used by a lot of small businesses. However, it is unlikely the software will have a massive impact until an API is released for adding new modules.

Google “office”:

Google doesn’t really provide an office suite yet. But the word editor and spreadsheet applications can be helpful for sharing this type of documents (replacing word and excel). The integration level is then not very well advanced and it is likely it will remain so for a while (or Google would have to stop claiming it doesnt want to replace Microsoft office).

It is not complete either but Google brings new tools on a regular basis so it is possible we’ll see a suite of tools that will cover most office needs in a couple of years..

But where Google will create a real change on this front will be when it releases their API for using the tools in a mashup environment. It is likely we’ll then see their word and excel modules integrated in a lot of frameworks or collaborative tools. Just like we now have rich text editors in most of these environments, we’ll see word editors proposed as standards and spreadsheet data edited in blog tools…

Conclusion: Google will probably create a market move when it release its office API. Until then, it is just another nice tool of limited use.

Where is Office 2.0 going?

Office 2.0 has the potential to complement or replace traditional desktop applications if we have a software suite :

  • that provides enough applications out of the box,
  •  is well packaged and usable,
  • with an API for adding other modules.

An open source system would have a huge impact on the market but an open API would be enough if the price tag for the core of the software is affordable by small businesses.

It is likely we see Office 2.0 coming with a few leading application dendors that will share the market for generic applications, with a lot of smaller suites focusing on vertical markets.

A second step would then be to create a standard for application modules that could be integrated in suites supporting it, and this standard could use an ajax/mashup model. This type of standard would not require too much effort (ex. an html page with a simple API for loading JS and css resources) and could be defined very quickly (< 2 years).

Widget frameworks (Google desktop, Yahoo widgets) could also be integrated with Office 2.0, especially if they support an office 2.0 api. This would allow users to be notified when new documents are added or modified in their online office workspaces and/or have their main application modules directly integrated in the desktop, thus creating a mixed of online/desktop office suite. One adavnatge of this solution will be that modules will be available everywhere (web application) but also will be running on PC + Macs even in their desktop widget form (Google and Yahoo widget framework being available on both platforms).

Microsoft Ajax toolkit

September 12, 2006

Just read today an article on CBR news about Atlas, codename project for Microsoft’s Ajax toolkit. I have mixed feelings about it…

Pros:

  • microsoft is ussually good on the client side so we can expect soem nice widgets
  • will support all browsers (!!)
  • architecture distinguishes client and server side. The client side will support any server technology including PHP and CFM!

Cons:

  • it is again Microsoft against everybody else and they are not part of groups trying to create an Ajax standard.

Other:

  • will be integrated server side with their server technology in what they call ASP.NET 2.0 AJAX Extensions.

Conclusion:

Atlase seems like an intersting project to follow. If not tight server side with ASP.NET then it has the potential to be used widely. Not part of any standard though.. We will have to see how this impact the devlopement of conmponents on the server side and teh market for these components. They never really took off with java or ActiveX so it remains to be seen if a standard will be useful here…

Related thoughts…

As for the future of Ajax, I am still wondering how long we will be talking about it before it is integrated as “just another tool” in the development toolkit. But it ssems like it can make a real difference:

  • for enhancing the usability of service based application (the new challenge for Msoft and others),
  • it also has a potential of creating a mashup type of applications where people provide services with a cleint side component (or API). This is where a standard would be useful. The standard should address the various types of request to the server (forms, whole components, etc.). It would probably need to be based on XML for describing resources required by a component. For example: if we load a component, what CSS and JS files do we need to load as well, how do we manage CSS and JS conflicts? By name conventions or by isolating each component in a separate document (iframe)?

New Technology Blog!

May 19, 2006

ok, finally decided to try out this blog platform..

I am involved in web technology, architecture, web products, etc. and will publish stuff related to this type of technologies. There are quite a lot of hot things happening on the web these days (well it has ben like that for a looonnnng time) and there are always new trends and exciting stuff coming out. The thing is everybody gets excited when the "new stuff" arrive and publishes a lot of articles, invest plenty of energy. But it is only when the wave has passed that we can see the actual business and practical benefits for organisations. We have seen thius happening in "recent years" for C++, java, .net, soap/web services, etc. And now we have web 2.0 and it is not difficult to see the same pattern. There is a great value in web 2.0, but we still dont know exactly what will be the final outcome… But hey!, we love our toys and technology would be so boring without them 🙂

So this blog is about deciphering the new technologies and trying to figure out what it means and where it can be used… Well that's only a try, isn't it?

As it will be a kind of brainstorm, I probably wont filter things too much. Sensitive souls should then wear protective filter glasses where needed.. 🙂 Shoutings and reactions whatever they are are welcome…