I'm at the O'ReillyEmerging Technology conference in San Diego, today was "Tutorial Day" and I decided to attend "Designing the next generation of Web Applications" in the morning and "Next Generation Flash Development with Flex" in the afternoon.
The morning talk was very nicely presented, Jesse James Garrett coined the term AJAX amongst other things, and Jeff Veen worked on Hotwire, Blogger and Measuremap, they provided a structured set of best practices for designing web applications with lots of great examples and anecdotes.
AJAX acts as a convergence point for browser based applications because almost all current browsers support the same set of technologies and there is a highly functional lowest common denominator. There is now also a large body of applications that provide the intertia or value that constrains the browser writers from diverging with incompatible functionality. This is the same effect that occurred in the PC marketplace, when MSDOS and Windows developed enough application value that neither Intel nor Microsoft could diverge in an incompatible manner. The collective self interest of the end user reaches a tipping point that blocks radical innovation, and slow incremental evolution takes over.
The interesting area for me is how this maps to the mobile/wireless space. There is no AJAX for wireless applications, the market is huge, but the platform diversity is also huge and is growing. One estimate I heard was that there are 1000 separate platforms to target and that this number is growing, not shrinking.
So what we need, is the equivalent of AJAX for Wireless, something like Flash Lite On Rails Wireless Asynchronous XML - FLORWAX - which also has a household cleaning connotation :-)
If enough people standardize on a common set of technologies, then the handset vendors will start to build to a common profile as well, and we could end up with a decently functional lowest common denominator.
etech06, etech, florwax