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RE: ACTION-47: Draft a chapter outline of "What is a Web App?"

From: Tomaz Scavnicar <tomaz.scavnicar@kodirnica.net>
Date: Tue, 14 Aug 2012 09:08:28 +0000
To: Tobie Langel <tobie@fb.com>, Andrew Betts <andrew.betts@ft.com>, "LEONG, JENNIFER" <jl3101@att.com>
CC: "public-coremob@w3.org" <public-coremob@w3.org>
Message-ID: <833357E270AB974F90F344EE468EDE1201306C47@AMSPRD0310MB385.eurprd03.prod.outlook.com>
It's an interesting question, because I think that we alerady live for a long time in an web app era, but they are just not understanded and interpreted like that :). The problem is that they don't work on different devices, or if they work we have different user expirience and different functionalitiees.
 
I think that there must be 2 definitions that define the web app. One defines technical requirements and one is defining user experience requirements and I think that these definitions need to be very minimal and clear.
 
For me a web app would be like this:
Technical requirements:
-has a plug-in free experience, that offers a cross browser and cross device usability
-uses cross browser code
-has meta data that offers easy discovering
-has something like desktop pinning or something that allows to access it instantly, with one click from the device
-touch support
 
User experience requirements:
-Fits the screen, so we don't need to pan or zoom to see the whole content
-has the same minimal cross browser and cross devices user experience with taking in count hardware limitations
-touch first design (minimal margins around buttons, minimal size of clickable elements,....)
 
I think that we must take in count that design is subjective, but some minimal requirements should be met. 
Things like caching,  page concept and similar are matter of design (technical and ux) and, maybe they can be understanded like differentiation factor from good and bad web apps.

There will be also logical that we have a common place where this apps are available.
 
Greetings,
Tomaž

________________________________________
Od: Tobie Langel [tobie@fb.com]
Poslano: 13. avgust 2012 23:27
Za: Andrew Betts; LEONG, JENNIFER
Kp: public-coremob@w3.org
Zadeva: Re: ACTION-47: Draft a chapter outline of "What is a Web App?"

On 8/13/12 12:22 PM, "Andrew Betts" <andrew.betts@ft.com> wrote:

>This is a great effort, if only to start a debate that needs to be
>had, because our view of a web app is very different to this.  I'll
>counter each of these points first and then give our definition:
>
>On 10 August 2012 05:33, LEONG, JENNIFER <jl3101@att.com> wrote:
>> Here is a stab at ACTION-47
>>(http://www.w3.org/community/coremob/track/actions/47), drafted by Bryan
>>Sullivan and I. Please let me know if this helps to define "What is a
>>Web App" at least within the context of the CoreMob requirements scope.
>> -----------------------------------------
>> What is a mobile Web app?
>>
>> First, a mobile Web app is mobile.  That means that it is meant to be
>>used on a mobile device, such as a smartphone or tablet.
>
>The question was actually 'what is a web app', and 'mobile' has snuck
>in there.  I'm not sure that's helpful, as web apps don't have to be
>mobile (see Chrome Web Store), and mobile doesn't have to mean
>smartphones and tablets (see netbooks with built in 3G).  We don't
>think the device you choose to use it on should affect whether we
>consider it to be an app or not.
>
>> Further, it is likely to be used in and between various network
>>environments, and usable
>> when the user's device is network-connected (online), or offline. It
>>may be expressly intended
>> for offline use only, requiring no network connection after being
>>loaded or installed.
>
>It's reasonably safe to say that a static website that adds a manifest
>so you can reliably view it when offline isn't an app.  So it feels
>like we're saying here that there is no definitive definition of a web
>app, but rather various things (like this offline point) add up until
>we reach some arbitrary 'bar' at which point we tip the scales into
>'app' territory.  In that case, it would surely be virtually
>impossible to reach a tangible definition.
>
>>
>> Next, while being based on Web technologies (e.g. HTML, CSS, and
>>JavaScript), mobile
>> Web apps can be implemented using WebView APIs in a native code
>>wrapper, as installable
>> Web apps using various standards-based and proprietary app packaging,
>>or as Web browser-
>> based apps.
>
>I agree, but given that a) you could use a webview to load the worst
>website in the world, and b) we're not insisting on the webview
>wrapper as a pre-requisite for 'app-ness', this seems a moot point.
>
>>
>> Mobile Web apps  may be loaded on-demand from a Web server, may use
>> installed or persistently cached Web content, or may use a combination
>>of
>> both installed/cached and on-demand Web content.
>
>This is de-facto true, since it allows for every possible option and
>doesn't mandate any or prohibit any, so it doesn't seem to narrow the
>definition.
>
>>
>> Mobile Web apps are typically single/special purpose rather than
>>general purpose apps.
>> They also focus on simple presentation and ease of user interaction,
>>leveraging diverse
>> forms of user input including touch, on-screen or dedicated keyboards,
>>accelerometer,
>> and speech.
>
>I'm uncertain about what a 'general purpose' app would be, but
>otherwise agree that simple presentation and ease of user interaction
>is important to apps.  However, it could be seen as important to
>websites as well. I think we can drill down on this point a but more
>(see below).
>
>>
>> Mobile Web apps are designed to work well in diverse environments and
>>device form
>> factors or orientations, and often use device information (e.g.
>>geolocation) to provide
>> a more contextually relevant user experience.
>
>I've seen a number of web apps designed purely for iOS, which don't
>really work on other mobile platforms and not at all on desktop.  But
>they're still apps in the sense that they feel the same as a native
>iOS app.
>
>Here is my take on what an app is.  First, I would say we need to
>ignore distractions involving technology choices - the very point of
>the web is that it is ubiquitous and ever evolving, so tying the
>definition to any concrete form of current technology is likely to be
>a bad idea.  The closest quantitative definition that I'd be
>reasonably happy with is that apps lack a page metaphor when moving
>between states.  A traditional website will, at every state change,
>load a new page.  An app does not (appear to) have the page concept at
>all.
>
>However, there are counter arguments to that as well, and I actually
>prefer a qualitative definition - an app is something that is designed
>for the user, which feels 'made for me'.  The problem with the web
>when the iPhone came along was that the sites didn't fit well on the
>screen and using them was fiddly, because they weren't made for the
>iPhone.  Apple released the iOS SDK so that third parties could build
>apps that were made for the iPhone, and as a result the user
>experience of those apps feels perfectly tuned for that device.  Any
>website that does the same, even if only for iOS, has become an app,
>in my view.  The great potential of using web technologies is that you
>can potentially make a single app which feels 'made for me' on several
>different platforms, by having it adapt automatically to the
>constraints and capabilities of the platform on which it is used.
>
>I would include desktop websites here as well.  It's become the norm
>to set a fixed width for a website, and make the design job easier as
>a result. But doing so means the site is no longer 'made for me' on
>any screen that doesn't match the fixed width that the developer
>chose.  For example, 'apps' from the Chrome Web Store tend not to make
>use of fixed width layouts nearly as much as the wider web does (for a
>specific example compare www.bbcgoodfood.com with
>www.bbcgoodfood.com/chromeapp).
>
>In conclusion, I realise I've countered all of Jennifer's points and I
>really don't mean to devalue her draft, as the points made are all
>valid in a certain context, and it may well be that my view is the
>outlier because we see apps in a different context.  A few months ago
>I posted an article on the FT Labs blog trying to answer this very
>question, and for those interested, it makes roughly the same argument
>that I've presented here.
>
>http://labs.ft.com/2012/06/what-exactly-is-an-app/

Think both of these definitions don't spell out clearly enough the task
oriented mindset that defines apps in general, regardless of whether
they're _Web_ apps or not.

>From Wikipedia[1]:

"Application software, also known as an application or an app, is computer
software designed to help the user to perform specific tasks."


>From the New Oxford American Dictionary:

"Computing a program or piece of software designed and written to fulfill
a particular purpose of the user: a database application."

--tobie

---
[1]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Application_software
Received on Tuesday, 14 August 2012 09:09:02 UTC

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