Thursday, November 2nd, 2006

Is it time for a Web OS yet?

Category: Editorial

David Kushner has writen a piece on Blake Ross, and his new product Parakey that is:

a Web operating system that can do everything an OS can do.” Translation: it makes it really easy to store your stuff and share it with the world. Most or all of Parakey will be open source, under a license similar to Firefox’s. There are differences between the two projects, however. Although Ross plans to incorporate the talents and passions of the free-software community, he’s building Parakey around a for-profit business model. And he’s leading the charge with a simple battle cry: “One interface, not two!”

We saw many Web OS attempts in the first bubble, but has the landscape changed enough to enable this vision in 2007?

Parakey comes with a new language to build apps upon it:

Ross wants independent developers to create a variety of applications for Parakey. To that end, he and Hewitt have created a programming language for Parakey that they call JUL, a mashed-up acronym that stands for “Just another User interface Language.”

JUL is specially designed for the online world in which Parakey applications will reside. JUL applications are themselves comprised of other applications that come in all shapes and sizes. The interface for Mrs. Anderson’s recipe application, for instance, might include much smaller ones such as a metric-to-English-units converter or photo-goes-here. “You’re not thinking at [the HTML] level anymore,” Ross says. “You’re thinking one level up. That will make it easier to build desktop applications on the Web.” And despite Ross’s connection to Firefox, Parakey will work with any browser.

JUL applications also notice Web events that take place when someone is reading a Parakey page—an update to a sports score, for example, or a new blog entry—and instantly update the page accordingly. Users of these applications don’t have to request these updates, and neither do the JUL developers who wrote them. They simply include “formulas” behind the scenes that reference different information sources. If a source changes, JUL automatically reevaluates the formulas—much as a spreadsheet does.

Hopefully JUL allows us to take our HTML/CSS/JS/Ajax skills and apply them (else it is DOA).

Posted by Dion Almaer at 10:30 am
17 Comments

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3.7 rating from 28 votes

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Yes! look italian ajax web site framework
http://applick.com

Comment by Giovambattista Fazioli — November 2, 2006

I can’t wait for this! I have seen the light ever since installing the new Streampad Desktop software (http://www.streampad.com). Streampad is a webapp, but uses a tiny client to turn your PC into a server for music files. Now, all 3 of my PCs and 1 Mac are perfectly synced with my music. If Parakey can do this for all file types it will be a huge success.

Comment by Henry — November 2, 2006

To people who say “Web OS” I say, do you know what an OS is? What is the facination with throwing all of modern societies content into the ether? This will NEVER go over. I’m sorry, but people are too selfish to ever give up their personal, offline, desktops. Sure, there are things that I would like everyone to see, but I think that makes up about 10% of my productivity and content. This is the vision that companies like Google want you to buy into, but at a certain point people need to realize that Google is not the simple search engine they fell in love with, it’s a multinational, public CORPORATION that cares about 1 thing, greenbacks. Whether we continue to let “The Google”, as Bush put it, and companies like them, collect, crunch, and profit from our data under the mask of “collaboration” and “freedom” is up to us. But count ME out.

Comment by Snootz — November 2, 2006

What about other Web OSes like YouOS, EyeOS, Xin, Orcaa, Goowy etc – I think this concept will not take off… I do not understand why would anyone require a different ‘desktop’ other than theirs…

Comment by Sriram — November 2, 2006

I agree with Snootz. We’re in the middle of a giant hype bubble where people think they can sell everything and anything provided it runs on remote computers. This has been around for as long as computers exist, and I see many drawbacks and roadblocks for such a scheme. Don’t you see there is a conflict between the need for ever increasing hard drive sizes on personal computers, and the “market” willing to have users store everything on remote machines?

In my opinion, this bubble will burst soon enough, once investors figure out that they’ve been caught once more in the self-powering hype, and that they’ve once more been promoting form over function. These guys know squat about technology, but I admire the CEOs who have the balls to outright lie to investors about the potential of web-based crapplications. THEY are the ones making money now ;-)

I can’t agree more with Snootz. Count me out too.

Comment by fpillet — November 2, 2006

“Don’t you see there is a conflict between the need for ever increasing hard drive sizes on personal computers, and the “market” willing to have users store everything on remote machines?”

fpillet, the whole point of the article was that parakey resolves this paradox. Get over your anger and allow room for innovation.

Comment by Anonymous — November 2, 2006

I’m very curious about this new framework/environment, but I also have some agreement with earlier commenters: I don’t see that there’s been a huge move to tightly integrate our personal PCs and the world.

I don’t see that this is selfish as much as it is wise — do we really want to be that connected to the world?

I like the idea of being able to use something such as S3 for backup, but this is so slow that I can’t see how this is feasible when secondary storage is so cheap. (Though I sure wish this wasn’t so slow.) As for making it easier to put material online, that has appeal, but I can throw a couple of plugins into WordPress and achieve the same effect, without compromising the security of my site.

We’ll see when we have something tangible to explore.

Comment by Shelley — November 2, 2006

Great idea! Too bad there won’t be much adoption. There are some great examples of “desktop functionality on the web” that just don’t cut it for most users. If I refer to my parents as examples, they have no desire to use google calendar because their paper-based Franklin Planner has worked fine for 10 years. Why use writely if the computer came with MS Word insalled?

While web sites/pages work great at times to mimic desktop functionality, I think that the ‘revolution’ needs to be mashups between the desktop and internet worlds. I use my treo for all my calendaring needs – what if the Palm desktop synched with my google calendar automagically?

Striking off in a new direction, with a new language, while it seems like a great idea, is probably the wrong direction, IMO

Comment by Jon — November 2, 2006

I would be happy if people drop the term “Web OS” asap. There is no such thing, and there will never be. It is simple – those things they call “Web OS” require a browser. The browser itself cannot work without a desktop OS. More – a web page cannot handle all the hardware, and cannot have the main part of every OS – a kernel. Call it “Web desktop”, or similar, but not OS – it will not make user and computer talk one language, like a normal OS do.

Comment by Bozhidar — November 2, 2006

Are white iPods crap, and pink iPods a new ground-breaking innovation? Must be because they are “pinker”. That’s my new terminology for the misuse of AJAX and recent web technology – pinker. Want a killer web application? Add a little more pink. While I can’t pronounce his name, I completely agree with Bozhidar. The retarded terms that have been adopted by the web 2.0 crowd (oh wait …) to express ideas completely unrelated to their technology have to end. Lets call it “Web Collaboration Framework # 6008”, or some other such reasonably accurate name. I’m all for innovation, let’s do that. Let’s not take a desktop application (or in this extreme, the desktop) and duplicate the functionality in a browser. What does that get us? Is that innovative? A desktop app and a web app have different strengths and weaknesses, and finding ways of building on either in new and beneficial ways is innovation. Regurgitation, in pink, is not. Viva Web OS.

Comment by Dan — November 2, 2006

http://chimpos.com lol

Comment by pwn — November 3, 2006

[…] http://ajaxian.com/archives/is-it-time-for-a-web-os-yet […]

Pingback by 本日書籤 « penk - Keep on rockin’ in the free world — November 4, 2006

Just to belatedly clarify a question raised in the article: Yes, JUL will absolutely build on the skills Web developers already have. We’ve designed it from the start with that in mind.

Comment by Blake — November 11, 2006

[…] Thanks to the many people in the blog world who covered the story and offered input (positive and negative) about what we’re doing. I believe Matt Mullenweg was the first to break the story on the Web, and it was then graciously picked up by Matt Marshall, Dave Winer, Niall Kennedy, Om Malik, Aidan Henry, Ajaxian, Susan Mernit, Lloyd Budd, Alex Moskalyuk, […]

Pingback by Blake Ross on Firefox » So about that project… — November 11, 2006

We the Team Orca are sure about the web os, it is the time, it is fully functional and it is the future. Not anyone in this world is privileged to have a laptop unfortunatly and not everyone in this world is prepared to spend a fortune on a microsoft application! We are changing all that the future is the web and we have an outstanding product.
Try our beta version of a virtual desktop and leave some feedback and join the discussion we are always in the hunt for intelligent people who can help us make this the best OS!

http://www.orcadesktop.com

Bjørn Jensen Team Orca

Comment by Bjorn Jensen — November 12, 2006

There is nothing wrong with the name Web OS. Ajax is an awesome technology and the ONLY thing that will ever make the web a decent experience. There is also nothing wrong with the name Ajax. Stop complaining! I’m a full-time web developer and my experiences with Ajax and the whole Web 2.0 thing have been fantastic! It’s such a shame that people aren’t prepared to let go of their dorky desktop programs, and their static, boring, 90s viewpoint of the web. If you don’t like Web 2.0 and what it’s all about, then run and hide and hold onto your desktop programs because the web is not going to go backwards.

Comment by Jackson Capper — November 13, 2006

[…] En Ajaxian se preguntan si ya es el momento para los Web OS (sistemas operativos basado en la web) y nos pone tras la pista de Parakey (Computers are frustrating. Creating documents, finding files, sharing information— why do everyday things still seem so tedious and counterintuitive?) y de una interesante entrevista a Joe Hewitt we have two wildly advanced platforms—the desktop operating system and the Internet. That leaves users with a frustrating choice. Do you want to create content with powerful tools in an ad-free environment and bury it in a system that’s accessible anytime, but only in one place and by one person? […]

Pingback by Deakialli DocuMental » Blog Archive » Web OS (no leer seguido) para gestión documental — November 17, 2006

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