Web applications are big. Web applications are the future. No, wait, web applications are now. At least that’s what came out of this year’s AJAXWorld Conference, which took place from the 23rd to the 26th of September in Santa Clara. A Rubicon report released during the event even claimed that “some web apps are already spreading rapidly through the PC user base”. According to the report, of 2,000 US adults surveyed, 80% have already heard of web apps. Pretty impressive, no? But have they actually used them? Well, according to the Rubicon study, more than half have and 37% do use web apps regularly. While the most popular apps tend to revolve around email or games, the Rubicon report writes that the real reason for not switching to web apps is lack of necessity. I think this will change though, as we’re seeing really impressive web apps being developed, often much more effective than any desktop program.
You might not know how to set up web apps on your desktop. Luckily there’s a few excellent applications out there to not only enjoy web applications but even develop some your self. Adobe Integrated Runtime, also known as AIR, is probably the most famous of them all. This cross platform application lets you develop web apps in most known coding languages and run them directly on your desktop. To counter it Microsoft released Silverlight, which works as a plug-in for your browser. Once installed, you don’t need to worry about launching it, as it activates automatically every time you come upon a web applications whilst browsing. Google itself is working hard at making web apps accessible on your desktop. Google Gears is a perfect example of this. This program allows you to consult Google services like Gmail or Google Reader from your computer even when you’re offline. If you develop applications, we also suggest installing the Google Web Toolkit, with which you can develop and debug AJAX apps. Last but not least is Mozilla’s WebRunner, a little curiosity I came across today. This application loads web apps into a separate basic browser window. Simple, but it works.