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Is the Web losing its edge?

BOSTON--It's a rainy and snowy day in Boston this morning, and perhaps rightfully so, given the somber mood at the opening day of the XML 2007 conference, being held here.

Yahoo! architect Douglas Crockford, one of the keynotes this morning, mentioned that the World Wide Web is in danger of losing its ubiquity.

The true value of the Web is in how it provides a common platform for online applications. While we take for granted the fact that the Web can be accessed from pretty much any computer, there are forces at work that may disrupt its pervasiveness, Crockford warned.

Due to the shortcomings of in HTML, a number of single-vendor offerings have arisen that can offer attractive alternative platforms, such as Microsoft Silverlight, Adobe Air and Sun Microsystems' JavaFX.

The trouble with the open Web standards is that no one is working on the hard problems, Crockford said. Take HTML, for instance, HTML has never been a great model for presentation and that it hasn't aged well. And certainly Silverlight, Air and JavaFX have some sexy presentation features. Security is another problem. There aren't sufficient boundaries between different Web technologies, such as JavaScript and HTML..

In many cases, the Extensible Markup Language can be at least partially to blame, Crockford argued, as it has drawn a lot of the developer attention over the past few years.

Not that there is anything wrong with single-product approaches. But the strength of the World Wide Web was that it was not one company's product.. We all didn't need to go out and buy one document viewer, or one document creator to create Web pages'not that we would have ever done so anyway. So the ubiquity came from how we could all easily create and view pages.

It would be nice to extend that universal power from Web pages to Web applications, but there is no guarantee that this will happen, especially with HTML falling behind.

Crockford, by the way, is the father of JavaScript Object Notation (JSON), which he designed as a data interchange standard for programmers who aren't quite comfortable with XML.

Posted by Joab Jackson on Dec 03, 2007 at 9:39 AM


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Reader Comments

Sat, Dec 15, 2007 JOHN KRUEBBE DC

Thank GOD for Douglas Crockford and David Heinemeier Hansson!I think that XML, HTTP started us down the road, but for how long are we going to put up with this and other pathetic excuses for Computer Science that I have seen in the last 20 years. It is about time that someone got serious about UNDEFINEing the word WEB. We need to DEFINE and architect the next generation net that I would call the "CONNECTOR". Think about how that sounds. I am getting on the "CONNECTOR"... or do you still like I am getting on the "WEB". What does that tell about what it does?I am waiting to see where RUBY on Rails (2.0 now oooh )goes. I finally found a way not to have to write HTML as often. Sure I still have to edit it, but one more step away and I am sure that David will keep it up to date so that when the new stuff comes out it will generate that too on the fly.Kimi says it best "If I had wings I would not have to run, If I had wings I would not have to fall..." If only I could fly...

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