/ Technology

The Web App Is The Future

I tried using a Chromebook a few weeks ago. It was a nice experience, but there was a lot that I was missing out on thanks to the Chrome-only experience. (This was on a Chromebook which did not have the ability to run Android apps.) But it was getting close. It made me realize that most of the work we do on our computer doesn’t necessarily need to be done on the desktop. Most of what we work with can be done through he web browser; what I couldn’t do on my Chromebook at the time could be ported o the browser with little difficulty; there wasn’t much that had to be done on the desktop. The future is in Cloud computing and Web applications.

In 2007, the first iPhone shipped without the ability to install third party apps. The App Store wasn’t a thing. It’s hard to believe nowadays, but Steve Jobs was adamant in leaving out this ability. Considering the importance of the App Store and third party apps nowadays, it seems in hindsight that Steve Jobs was wrong about it. But that isn’t exactly true. Steve believed in using Web Apps — basically mobile versions of websites — for developers to give iPhones extra functionality. Though its use was severely limited, I think that the web app model has a use today, thanks the the prevalence of two particular development trends: the use of JavaScript Frameworks for desktop apps and subscription Cloud services.

Electron has become a very popular platform for developing thanks to the ease it gives when it comes to developing quickly and cross-compatibly. Don’t get me wrong here, there’s a lot I don’t like about Electron, but I think that some of the good aspects of the framework can be transferred to the rest of the development world. Resource use aside, the beauty of it is applications can be built for every operating system with very few variations to the version itself. This brings me to my vision of the future of app development:

  • Applications should be platform-agnostic.
  • Application data should be able to synchronize seamlessly.

This means I should be able to go from my Windows Desktop to my phone to my Chromebook and have all of the data and as much as the userspace as possible transfer seamlessly. Electron allows the first bit. But since Electron apps are built using web tech, could you run the code through Node server-side, and just have it use HTTP and render visual data client side? If data was said and computed server side, that would easily be able to check off that second tick. Then we would all be able to use Chromebook Pluses and spend less money on laptops. Phones are different because of how the application space works, but that synchronization idea can apply still.

I really think the Chromebook is the future, and web applications are our path to it. Now, not everything can be a web app at the moment, but I’m certain that with more R&D towards filestreaming, we can get to a whole future of web apps and cross-compatibility. It won’t matter what OS you use, as long as you have the internet.