Published at DZone with permission of Axel Rauschmayer, author and DZone MVB.
The “browser as a platform” is coming along nicely. The following are a few recent developments.
- ECMAScript is improving. (Note:
specification.) I was very disappointed after the feature-rich
ECMAScript 4 was abandoned, but there is some neat stuff
coming in ECMAScript 5: Inheritance has been simplified, some
meta-programming will be possible, methods for iteration have been added
to arrays, etc. What is great is that many modern browsers already support these features, making them quasi-standard.
It is still kind of weird to have programs delivered as source code.
But with parsers being fast, one more intermediate step is not that much
of a deal. Long-term, I would love to have some kind of compact storage
format to obviate the need for minifiers. Maybe the abstract syntax
tree, compactly encoded?
powerful, I expect servers to become much smaller, more like glorified
databases with which the apps sync. Still, having a elegant server
technology available that scales well and uses the same language as the
browser is invaluable. I expect one killer feature of Node.js (compared
to Java) to be cheap and simple hosting.
- New browser features. Browsers are getting features that were once reserved for operating systems such as key-value databases (look at the editors to see how widespread this standard will become), 3D graphics, and more.
- Installable web apps. Chrome has them, as does Firefox.
That means we get the option to either quickly test drive a web
application or to permanently install it. There will also be a way to
pay for web apps (necessary for them to compete with native apps).
- Stealth web apps. You might already be running web applications outside a browser without knowing it. For example, this article
lists how many iPad applications use HTML5 to display their content.
This allowed the developers to quickly port them to the Chrome app
store. It also lends further credence to the prediction that one day,
most applications will be based on web technologies. For mobile apps,
they already are the easiest cross-platform strategy.
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