Web-based web development

Writing code in your browser, it’s coming this way, I tell you! Some indications:

my own WikiRAD article (July 2005)
Playing around with PHP and wikis at the same time made me think on how web-based editing and compiling would be a good way to develop and run web applications
Create an RSS feed out of any web page by using regular expressions with a nifty Web2.0 user interface. Lots of services are based on URLs and use RSS as input, so this can be the start of a first application. E.g. I just created an RSS feed for the Stubru playlist pages out of a Stubru Javascript file. Imagine I could now tell Feed43:
for each item in feed_that_I_just_created {
parse_the item_url
publish an rss feed for this item_url as feed_url_X

and then start working with that content too.
Amazon S3
web-based outsourced storage for any application, which made John Keyes and Peter Van Dijck to ask themselves: “Can you use Amazon S3 to create the new Flickr killer?”, and which made me think: but what if not only the storage, but the whole program was run by a 3rd party?
Iamalpha (via Richard McManus)
AOL’s new initiative for building microformat-based applications. It’s a bit early to grasp the extent what what they’re trying to accomplish, but I think it’s potentially more than just widgets. They don’t have a web-based IDE yet, but they do have a copy/paste code-validator. Most importantly: the applications are run by AOL!
YouOS (via Jeremy Zawodny)
YouOS: web-based IDE
a web-based OS that allows you to develop Javascript-based applications in a web-based IDE, with version control and compiling. It’s one of the products coming out of Paul Graham‘s Y-combinator startup incubator.

For me, these are all indicators of a trend: there will be a day when you don’t need your own machines to run your complete (complex) web applications: the storage, the authentication, the aggregation, the statistics will all run on 3rd party servers, some of which you pay, some of which you don’t. I’m not talking about service providers like Ning: they allow you to configure/customize a web app that they developed, not you.
I see a web-based IDE for RubyOnRails coming, I think Yahoo, Google and Amazon will building the bricks too, and pretty soon you will be able to develop a Flickr-like photo management application and run it without having a machine of your own:

  • user/group management: Yahoo or Google or Microsoft’s single sign-on
  • photo storage: Amazon S3
  • database: some future version of Google Base
  • email: some future version of Yahoo or Google groups
  • photo tags/folksonomy: some future version of del.icio.us (see my Folksonomizer post)
  • comments: some future version of Gtalk or Campfire (mental note to self: write something about commentalizer and use of URI as web API)

Give it another year.

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6 thoughts on “Web-based web development”

  1. And how about Ourmedia and the Internet Archive as free storage …
    I’m 100% with you except I do like the Ning idea. I do think we’re not far from realising the promise Notes made, but was never able to realise … let the users assemble and “build” their own applications, meeting their specific needs.

  2. Great post. I really like your earlier WikiRAD post as well. You mentioned JotSpot in that post, but not in the context of a development platform, which is what Jot really is. (The wiki is the biggest and most well known app on Jot, but it’s just one of a growing set of collaborative Jot apps.)

    You’re spot on w/the need for a web-based IDE. Experience developing apps in Jot points to that, and many of our developers are asking for that as their #1 request. Right now our developers working on bigger apps are abandoning the wiki’s textarea and using Eclipse or vi, and then syncing pages into the Jot cloud w/Ant for testing. This is a temporary solution, and ignores the power of the browser-based vision you paint.

    True through the web programming isn’t going to really take off until there’s an end-to-end solution, and the IDE (or at least a set of tools that facilitate the edit/test/debug cycle) is at the heart of that process.

    Full disclosure: I work at JotSpot 🙂

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