Software Widgets All Over the Place
Nick Carr discusses the idea (brought up by Chris Anderson) of wrapping bits of data with an appropriate application, and then embedding that bundle directly into a web page. Bruno Pedro extends the basic idea to include the notion that not all the data be included in that bundle. At some point of extension, I think you end up back with the Web as it is today. Sure, pages will be more dynamic, and Ajax-like techniques make mashups possible, but is it a revolution?
Does it make sense to have lots of little spreadsheets; a different one on each page? Let’s say computers are really fast and have tons of memory, so efficiency isn’t an issue. What about the user? Will all these apps have different UIs because they’re from different vendors? Will each of these AppWidgets contain only the subset of functionality the embeddor thought would be useful to the data being presented? If we say “No, never!” to these issues, do we end up with ActiveX?
Let’s say we’ve learned from the past and we can do embedded apps without any of the obvious pitfalls. Is the web ready for the idea of apps whose data is pulled from disparate sources? The existence of mashups says yes, but how widespread is reliable, successful interop? The problem of data exchange has a few key aspects. Syndication via RSS or Atom addresses the issue of packaging in a manner that seems more manageable than SOAP, but there is still the issue of creating a tenuous dependency with each data linkage. It seems that there are a few really stable sources of information, particularly large companies, but the dream seems to be tying together information from many small sources as well as the big guys. If every individual is a source of data, does that mean that we each have to worry about compatibility-breaking changes to our own personal APIs?