Rod Begbie on Mockingbird and Cappuccino

Rod Begbie pushes back on Mockingbird:

If you load the app, you can see custom scrollbars and navigation, a complete lack of accessibility, non-native controls, and all those other things that cause geeks to hate Flash. What, to the end user, is the benefit of this being done with JavaScript instead of Flash? You can get the patronage of the 0.000001% of web users who don’t have Flash installed? (Sadly, I don’t think Richard Stallman needs many wireframes drawn).

Gruber’s definition of “true web app” and mine greatly differ. Clue: If it’s completely unusable on the iPhone Safari browser, it doesn’t matter if it’s built in JavaScript, Flash or Microsoft Visual Fortran 2012. It’s not a “true web app”.

I think there’s merit to using an open web platform that isn’t in the control of a single company, like Flash. Practical merit, not just philosophical merit. No one can hold HTML5/CSS/JavaScript hostage. After loading Mockingbird in Safari 4 (with no other browser windows open), Safari’s CPU usage drops back to 0. With, say, Balsamiq — a Flash app along the same lines as Mockingbird — Safari’s CPU usage never drops below 4 percent, even when idle.

But Begbie has a good point. As I wrote back in February about Cappuccino:

I still think building web apps that look and act like fake desktop apps is the wrong way to go, but if anyone is going to prove me wrong on that, it’s probably going to be these guys.

“Web apps” doesn’t feel like the right term to call apps like Mockingbird, but I’m not sure what would be. “Desktop web apps”? Whatever we should call them, I still haven’t seen one I actually use.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009