In a recent post about revisions to Web 2.0 I said that it’s a mistake to rule out the desktop, and I’d like to prattle on about this a little more.
Here’s the deal: although I agree with many of the ideas that Web 2.0 encompasses, too many proponents of Web 2.0 talk about desktop apps as though they’re a thing of the past – and I obviously don’t believe that at all.
Some might say I believe in desktop apps simply because I make my living from them, but it’s closer to the truth to say that I continue developing desktop apps because I still believe they’re important (if I didn’t, I’d switch to web development – cursing and screaming the whole time, of course, but I’d still switch).
Part of the problem is the “who’s gonna win” mindset, as though there’s a battle to the death between web-based and desktop-based apps. The reality is that the two types of applications can integrate to create a new breed of software. iTunes is a great example of this: desktop software which integrates with an online service (iTunes Music Store), resulting in a best-of-both-worlds application that generates an impressive revenue stream. Other examples include multiplayer games such as Guild Wars which require the power of your desktop, but tie into a hosted online environment to provide a type of gameplay that would be impossible on the desktop by itself.
While there are plenty of examples of desktop apps (including the next version of FeedDemon) which benefit from the mobility of web-based data, we haven’t seen many examples of the opposite idea – that is, web based apps which rely on data stored on your desktop. That may sound like a strange idea, but it’s actually something I’d like to see more of.
Why? Well, I create an awful lot of data – documents, software code, photos, etc. – that I’d like to share more easily, but I wouldn’t want to spread it out between multiple services, nor would I trust it to a single service and expect that service to enable me to share my data with competing services. I don’t want to hassle with the interop issues of sharing data between services. I create 99% of my data using desktop apps, and I want to keep this data on my machine and choose which services are permitted access to it. It would be great if a future desktop OS could make this much simpler to do.
So what about you – where do you keep your data? And do you think that desktop apps are on the way out, or do you believe – as I do – that they’ll evolve alongside the web?