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Re: ACTION-434: Some notes on organizing discussion on WebApps architecture

From: Jonathan Rees <jar@creativecommons.org>
Date: Tue, 12 Oct 2010 10:26:36 -0400
Message-ID: <AANLkTim98SEV6zoQ+FCNfOwb6s2xS4fHNycmfz=NZCdh@mail.gmail.com>
To: "Appelquist, Daniel, VF-Group" <Daniel.Appelquist@vodafone.com>
Cc: tag <www-tag@w3.org>
High-level rant, the result of my puzzling over the nature of our
applications work. Sorry if this is low content, but I wanted to post
it before the F2F.

One thing that makes the "web architecture" design successful is that
it is an architecture *of* something, namely a global hypertext
network. That characterization sets the scope nicely and sets terms
under which it can be evaluated and judged.

I think it would help a lot if we knew, in this round of work, what
sort of thing was supposed to have architecture. Are we talking about
an application-enriched hypertext network? A rich client/server
application platform?  A globally distributed computing platform? I
don't know, but I have a feeling that if we don't set some boundary
we'll spend a lot of time wandering around unproductively. If we're
going to boil the ocean, I at least want to know *which* ocean.

As we look beyond "global hypertext network" it might be helpful to
look at historical precedents of platform scope expansion. For
example, Unix was a beautiful and successful operating system for
PDP-11s, but suffered growing pains when it went to 32 bits. Those
pains didn't make it any less successful in its new domain, but growth
obliterated the original design, and the mutually incompatible
architectures that arose to replace the old one were always
compromised by the need to support the original.

I think the same kind of thing is happening now; the global hypertext
network architecture is in danger of disappearing under the crush of
applications. Choices being made now are determining the architecture
of the new order.

The new application-enriched Web is a bunch of things, self-organizing
without overall vision. That is probably as it should be. If we can do
anything at all other than maybe making it a better bunch of things (a
salutory goal but unrelated to architecture), it would be to
articulate what kind of system we would ideally like to see and then
identify practices that do and don't promote that kind of system. To
state what's obvious to those on www-tag, this "kind of system" is one
that's not only technically sound and meets current needs, but also
promotes broader social and economic aims.

A start would be to review desirable system properties (starting from
previous discussions, the W3C mission statement, AWWW, etc.) and
cross-check against these notes to identify points of harmony,
friction, or puzzlement.

Jonathan

On Fri, Jun 4, 2010 at 12:29 PM, Appelquist, Daniel, VF-Group
<Daniel.Appelquist@vodafone.com> wrote:
> I’ve put together some rough notes that I hope to continue to flesh out over
> the weekend:
>
> http://www.w3.org/2001/tag/2010/05/web-apps-notes.html
>
> Basically this is a laundry list with links to existing work from John,
> Ashok and Noah. If there is other work we should review let me know and I
> will add links here. I think it will be useful to go over some of the
> existing work and then to step back and say “what are we trying to achieve”
> here. I also think we need to look at what has happened outside of the W3C
> community on WebApps Architecture and solicit some support from the
> community.
>
> Some of these notes are necessarily colored by the work in WebApps wg, Geo,
> and DAP that I have been involved with.
>
> Thanks,
> Dan
Received on Tuesday, 12 October 2010 14:27:04 GMT

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