Mac OS X users have yet another browser choice in the works: Chimera, based on Mozilla but with a beautiful interface that removes the clutter and extraneous features of the full Netscape browser. David Hyatt, one of the main people behind Chimera, provides some background on Chimera development.
Matthew Thomas, also of Mozilla, has some things to say about “Why Free Software usability tends to suck” (also see part 2).
From Joel last Saturday: “It usually takes a lot more code to make a simpler interface.”
Jeff Veen from Dec 1999: “My prediction remains as it always has: The fastest Web sites, regardless of end-user bandwidth, will be the most successful… I’m looking for a page loading experience of under one second. Period.” [From EVHEAD]
Google Features: “Google examines more than 2 billion web pages to find the most relevant pages for any query and typically returns those results in less than half a second.”
Everyone’s talking about web services this week.
Megnut: “All this talk about APIs and web services warms my heart. We’ve passed the nadir of the dot-com hype and we’re coming back to the Web in interesting and important ways.”
Kottke: “Google is betting that a free teaser of their API (only 1000 searches/day currently allowed) will demonstrate to developers the power of Google in their applications and hope that they upgrade to a more industrial strength version (at least, that’s what they should be thinking).”
Brent Simmons: “I like web services. And I’m glad when they’re implemented and adopted, even when they’re SOAP interfaces. Something is better than nothing. The trend is good. But while XML-RPC is a thing of beauty, SOAP should have been named COAP–Convoluted Object Access Protocol.”
Yet, some people still don’t get it. From a copy of Java Developer’s Journal that has recently started showing up in my mailbox unasked for: “I’m not too excited about the whole Web services revolution. Personally, I think it’s just a marketing gimmick to repackage old products and technology.”
For me, the question of whether to adopt web services is a no-brainer. We’ve all been developing web-based applications for so long that we breath HTTP and SQL. Connecting systems over HTTP is an obvious solution, because it works on top of the same backend that our web application uses, whether its PHP and MySQL or Java and Oracle. Simple, open, cross-platform, and we can use any of the tools we are comfortable with.
Hack the Planet has a long thread on publish and subscribe, OpenDoc, Microsoft, and the new Apple. From Paul Snively: “It’s a commonplace among folks I know that Microsoft doesn’t get anything right until it’s at 3.0, but implicit in that observation is that Microsoft is willing to field a product, have that product fail in the marketplace, find out from the marketplace why it failed, and then try again, until, mirable dictu, they own that market category.”
Joel Spolsky, on Picking a Ship Date: “Generally, people who buy “off-the-shelf” software don’t want to be part of a Grand Development Experiment; they want something that anticipates their needs. As a customer, the only thing better than getting feature requests done quickly is getting them instantaneously because they’re already in the product.”
Userland’s Instant Outliner Beta Notes: “First, let me apologize for inflicting such an unfinished and inadequate piece of software on such unsuspecting and good-natured people.”
Steve Jobs, sometime before 1984: “Real artists ship.”
Alan Cooper’s “The Inmates Are Running the Asylum” had been gathering dust on my bookshelf for a couple years before I finally picked it up again. I finished it last week, and I only wish I had read it sooner. There is good stuff in it for everyone involved in software development, from managers to designers, and yes, even programmers. Although Cooper describes a world where software development companies will have a dedicated team of interaction designers, and programmers won’t be actively creating user interfaces, the reality for small companies is that programmers need to be involved in many aspects of product design, including interface and feature definition. The book contains some great tools for changing the way we approach interface design, though, and even just implementing some pieces of his approaches would improve the design process at most companies.
Until now, most sites creating their own UI widgets in DHTML have been slow, not to mention distracting — the non-standard scrollbars and buttons clash with the rest of your system. Oddpost.com changes that, creating an incredibly dynamic application that raises the bar for acceptable DHTML work. Frankly, it makes many of our page-based web applications look juvenile. But it comes at a cost: Windows MSIE 5 only.
Which brings the question: Is this a good thing? With Oddpost, MSIE 5 becomes the platform for your application, and many of the advantages of what we traditionally consider a web application are gone (any machine, any operating system, any browser). Which is fine. But at that point would Flash, with its richer interfaces and broader platform support, be a better choice?
From a technology standpoint, traditional web applications haven’t changed much since the CGI days. With sites like Oddpost, and all the Flash MX interfaces that are sure to come our way in the near future, maybe we will see a gradual shift. The work that KnowNow has been doing is relevant, also.
Peter Merholz: “I believe the degree of security folks are forced to place on their own system is far too draconian.”
Jacob Nielsen, from November 2000: “In reality, users simply write down difficult passwords, leaving the system vulnerable.”