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Heron-Centric: Ruminations of a Language Designer
When the Browser is an Inadequate Interface
by Christopher Diggins
February 28, 2005
I believe that using a typical web browser as an interface to certain online services is inherently flawed and a better separate technology is need.


I have been using a lot (I just made release 2.1 of the YARD parser and release 1.0.0 of the OOTL library) and I am really frustrated with the web interface. It is very slow and complicated and lacks a lot of features. It also requires numerous other pieces of software to access advanced functionality (such as ftp, sftp, ssh, cvs, etc.). I do not believe the problem with SourceForge however is the fault of the implementation, but rather the fault of the limitations of using a web browser and http!

In the case of SourceForge for developers, the most logical choice of technology for implementing the interface is html. There are several reasons for this AFAICT:

I want to explain why I said "tolerated". If I wrote almost any piece of PC software for a client (say for the sake of argument a word processor) which had the same kind of user interface as a web site (e.g. didn't save work on crashes, pauses of multiple seconds, etc.), they would fire me. We have become very complacent with regards to web site interfaces, simply because it is the best that exists.

My point is that a web browser and html is not the best possible technology for sophisticated online services. We see far too many broken ad-hoc javascript implementation which attempt to address these issues but they always seem to succumb to the fundamental flaws of http technology. I propose that we need a new kind of technology for these kinds of web services which require logging in and manipulating information online.

Any thoughts or comments? Would you like to see a new kind of interface to your online services which was easier to use for you and your clients?

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About the Blogger

Christopher Diggins is a software developer and freelance writer. Christopher loves programming, but is eternally frustrated by the shortcomings of modern programming languages. As would any reasonable person in his shoes, he decided to quit his day job to write his own ( ). Christopher is the co-author of the C++ Cookbook from O'Reilly. Christopher can be reached through his home page at

This weblog entry is Copyright © 2005 Christopher Diggins. All rights reserved.

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