We’ll always need browsing

Infoworld has an article and editorial suggesting that the arrival of beyond-the-browser technologies like the Adobe Integrated Runtime “spell doom for the web browser”. No way. We definitely need to be able to read the web — to click from hyperlink to hyperlink, to search documents on strange sites — we need to be able to browse the entire web safely. Having a generic shell application which can hold various HTML/CSS/JS presentations will remain a vital need far into the forseeable future. We’ll always need a document browser, so that you can read documents without bothering to trust the document provider. We need to surf. But now we’ve also got technology for network experiences from providers you trust, whether it’s an old-style native-code executable like Microsoft’s WPF, or a separate browser process like Mozilla’s Prism, or a cross-platform desktop application with easy development like Adobe AIR. Desktop applications started adding networking functions back when browsers started adding scripting… there’s a long tradition of both types of client software serving different user needs. Desktop apps convey additional privileges to coding you trust; HTML browsers’ restrictions let you engage with sources you don’t know enough about to trust. It’s not one or the other, it’s both. As Adobe’s Ed Rowe says at the end of the article: “”Adobe has no vested interest in saying all apps should be Web apps or that all apps should be desktop apps. In no way are we anti-browser. As far as the browser becoming more powerful, where that makes sense, that’s great.”