Saturday, August 11, 2007

Yeah Right

I got the new issue of ACM’s Queue magazine the other day. The interview this time was with Joel of Joel on Software fame.

There are some things that I agree with Joel on (by and large, I think he’s a self-important blowhard, but he does occasionally have some good ideas). I think that developers (programmers, software engineers, whatever-the-heck-you-want-to-call-us) should have offices with doors that close so we can get things done.

My friend and I agree that our ideal setup if we ever started a company would be private offices along with a lab environment so you could have quiet if you needed it, but if you felt disconnected and wanted to work around people for a while, you could just go to the lab. What can I say? We had a lot of fond memories of the Sun labs on campus (especially when it was just the few of us in the room that really knew what we were doing).

However, there was one thing in Joel’s interview that just makes me want to ask him what the heck he’s smoking. It’s not the first time he’s said the thing that makes me question his connections with reality either.

What is this thing, you ask?

That nobody is developing GUI desktop applications anymore and they are, effectively, dead.

That’s right. You heard me, Netcraft hasn’t confirmed it yet, but according to Joel, desktop software is dead.

Please allow me to call bullshit.

I realize that Joel thinks he’s the end all and be all of software company owners, but on this, the man doesn’t have a bloody clue. His main application, Fog Bugz, is browser based, so of course, he sees the software world as browser-centric.

However, the rest of us, minus some intranet applications that we may use at work (or the poor schmoes that use Google’s apps) are using stuff that is well and truly on our desktop.

For example, here is a quick rundown of the apps I’ve used today – Windows, Winamp, Firefox, Thunderbird, Word, Exact Audio Copy (I finally finished ripping my CD collection to the new drive), Visual Studio, File Zilla, and a few other things.

Want to know how many web apps that I’ve used in the last several months? The shopping carts for a couple of web stores, my bank (it sort of counts) and Blogger (if you want to count that since they have sort of tied it to their apps).

Hey Joel, want to know a secret? Web 2.0 is NOT going to take over application development. I remember when things were console based. What we have now is a VAST improvement.

Web 2.0 style stuff has its place. However, that place is pretty bloody narrow in scope.

Want to know something else that kills your prediction? Just what do you think your precious non-desktop-GUI apps run on? That’s right. They run on an operating system (which generally has a GUI desktop) and generally a web browser.

What are those two things? Could they be desktop GUI applications? I think so!

Want to know something else? Most of us (and most businesses) want to have control of our own freaking data. There are a number of reasons for that – among them, being able to control who has access to it and the fact that we don’t have to worry about not being able to get our data if our net access goes down.

Desktop apps aren’t going anywhere for a long long time, and, despite what you think, there are a LOT of people out there making them.

Current mood: amused
Current music: Rihanna – Shut up and Drive

1 comment:

Karyl said...

I just plain *can't* use web apps.

MANY rural areas can't get the kind of connections that half of the internet "expects" us to have. We've got a choice between dialup (affordable but slow) or satellite (unaffordable and really not fast enough to justify the price by any stretch of the imagination).

And I'm sure desktop apps dying out is why every company still wants their secretaries to use MS Office. Yup. Sounds pretty dead to me.