Thin clients thin on experience

Scoble is getting picked on by the thin client "revolutionaries"



They ( ) point to several neat hacks




Which, while interesting, aren't that compelling. In fact, I haven't seen that compelling of a feature  from any of the "Ajax" sites.


The only reason rich sites like , and get tons of press is because they did the seemingly impossible with limited technologies (primarily being JavaScript and HTML, with some XMLRPC thrown in for good luck). Other than that, its seemingly 1993 technologies. Do you believe that Google maps or Virtual Earth are better than a rich client with web services functionality? No, it’s a neat hack and I applaud the developer who did it, but in reality, it’s a lot of hard work, without a great payoff, the loading of individual images is slow and annoying as they cant cache or preload them.


With the rise of new technologies such as .NET, Java, Mono, SDL and others, I doubt the call of "revolutionaries" will ring true. The thin client they envision is too thin for a rich experience, when you start adding in stuff like flash the thin advantage goes away. Every time you have to code to a specific browser a your "thin" advantage goes away.


Not that thin clients don't have their place, I use plenty of web based application, banking, once a month bill paying, and shopping, but anything more than that is obnoxious due to latency caused by roundtrip server calls and no caching.


So here are my guidelines for when thin is in

  1. Limited predictable user actions, paying a bill, buying a gift.(although Amazon's rich client shown at PDC 2003 would be one of the first things I would install)

  1. Infrequently used applications

  1. Limited data entry where speed doesn’t matter

  1. Where offline support matters!


So I agree with Scoble!





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