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Is Web-based GUI really better?

Paul Gilette

Joined: May 09, 2001
Posts: 10
I have a philosophical question that's been nagging at me lately.
So much effort is going into Web-based application design. This has led to complex architectures (e.g., Struts), novel user interfaces (e.g., using Flash), less language standardization, high training costs, lots of confusion, etc.
Why aren't people doing "standard" GUI using Swing? There are technologies, such as Java Web Start, that appear to address the distribution issue.
Think about the years of R&D that went into standard widgets: starting with Xerox PARC, the Mac, all the Microsoft usability research, and so on. Computer users are familiar with radio buttons, check boxes, etc. And those years of application knowledge -- from CICS to VB to Powerbuilder and Delphi -- all of this experience has contributed to what we see in Swing.
So why re-think everything with these elaborate Web-based applications? Can we make Web-based applications work? Sure! But are the enormous costs needed? Do we need to re-invent how users interact with their data?
Now don't get me wrong. The Web is great for certain kinds of information. Like hyper-linked documents and applications with very simple interactions. But these days it seems like developing Web-based (browser-based) applications and architectures is a juggernaut -- moving under its own weight and inertia.
What do you think?
Daniel Dunleavy
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 13, 2001
Posts: 276
I prefer the WEB PAGE as a preferable rollout vehicle. All you have to worry about on the user end is having the right version of a browser. Everything else can be handled on the server. This makes it much easier than the rollouts I have done in other environments.
Paul Gilette

Joined: May 09, 2001
Posts: 10
Dan -- Doesn't Java Web Start adequately address that?
David Weitzman
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jul 27, 2001
Posts: 1365
No it doesn't. You need to have Java (and Web Start) to run java applications through web start. You shouldn't make users download 30 megs to run your application. Plus Swing will tear older computers to shreds.
I agree. Here's the link:
subject: Is Web-based GUI really better?
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