[whatwg] What improves Web applications?

Ian Hickson ian at hixie.ch
Wed Jun 16 04:23:19 PDT 2004

On Fri, 11 Jun 2004, Nigel McFarlane wrote:
>> However, having said that, making things better for users is good too:
>> what do you think needs improving in terms of user experience with Web
>> applications?
> The point I keep coming back to with Web apps is that they are a
> fundamentally different use-case to Web docs.
> Web docs are "browsed" and "read", which can be re-phrased as
> "lightly navigated". They are visited "ad-hoc" or casually.

That, to me, largely describes most of the Web apps I use on a daily
basis. I browse and read bug databases, visit Google on an ad-hoc basis,
use GMail casually...

> Web apps are "tightly navigated" and subject to "data entry". They are
> visited "repetitively" or routinely.

...and I "tightly navigate" several W3C specs repetitively and routinely,
although I would call them documents not applications.

In general I think the separation of "data" from "code" -- the separation
of "document" from "application" -- is a concept that has been outgrown
and is not really understood by users now that "users" involves people
who do not know the first thing about computers or the internet.

I agree that there are things Applications need that HTML doesn't provide,
of course, that's what WHATWG is all about.

> Of course, it's possible to build a DHTML page that's tightly navigable
> without the user having to absorb a lot of information about images and
> white areas. It's just not done much. And it's not possible to navigate
> a Web app by keyboard without the focus moving to the toolbar
> (irritating) or else providing a pop-up window.

Not 100% sure what you mean by these. Could you elaborate? Maybe there are
some things we can do to HTML to solve these problems.

> The web bolt-on technique of "breadcrumbing" is an example of how HTML
> is encumbered by lack of fast navigation techniques. There are no
> breadcrumbs in WinZip or in MYOB/GnuCash/QuickBooks (for example), and
> no need for them.

I don't really see that there is a need for HTML-based applications of
that type either. GMail for example has no breadcrumbs.

> http://www.webreference.com/programming/xul/index.html

>From a brief look there, the only thing you do in XUL that can't be done
in HTML appears to be natively-supported tabs. That's on the list of
things to look at for Web Apps 1.0.

Ian Hickson               U+1047E                )\._.,--....,'``.    fL
http://ln.hixie.ch/       U+263A                /,   _.. \   _\  ;`._ ,.
Things that are impossible just take longer.   `._.-(,_..'--(,_..'`-.;.'

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