Sans Browser

Internet Desktop Applications

Internet Desktop Applications (IDAs) are closely related to Rich Internet Applications (RIAs) and share many of the same traits. RIAs have primarily come to be associated with the web browser, and since the “R” (Rich) in RIAs is something only novel in a web browser, but normal on the desktop, a different classification helps to identify the unique problems and advantages that this type of application brings.

A general description of an Internet Desktop Application: An application that merges the best qualities and behaviors of the the web and desktop in both end-user experience and in development and deployment.

Below is the start of a list detailing some of the best qualities for both end-users, and developers/designers of browser-based and desktop applications. This can be used to help evaluate environments and runtimes, and how well they are suited for building IDAs. Some carefully chosen areas from each list to compromise on can help to form more attainable short-term goals.

Browser-based Web Application Strengths

For end-users:

  • Zero-install
  • Accessible from multiple computers
  • Centralized data storage
  • Low-risk Security Sandbox

For developers/designers:

  • Instant application deployment and updates
  • Good cross-platform support
  • Rapid client-side development

Desktop Application Strengths

For end-users:

  • More consistent UI interactions
  • Local data storage
  • Interoperability with other desktop apps
  • Works offline
  • Application management through native OS mechanisms
  • Stability and performance

For developers/designers:

  • Consistent runtime target. (No cross-browser compatibility issues)
  • Full control of the user experience
  • Usage of OS native UI mechanisms
  • Application runs in it’s own process