The web as a GUI toolkit

Add Remove

excerpt It’s probably the biggest platform there is. There’s 3 billion people on Facebook, how many people online? How much force is behind web tech? A lot! Y’all already know this. :) It’s just crazy to think about. Most GUIs aren’t even called GUIs, they’re just “webapps” or “a site”. But I’m bringing this up because I think there was an interesting split. If you built a GUI before the .com boom (or whatever boom early web), you probably did it with some GUI toolkit tied to a language. Now, you can write in almost any backend language and the details are hidden from the user except for maybe a rogue /cgi-bin or .aspx in the URL. The web has many backend languages, fat GUIs have fewer. But the point is, we kind of stopped building fat desktop apps. There’s a few things we lost. We lost a layout tool like how Xcode has now, something that has alignment and quick feedback instead of save/refresh. There’s maybe some tools that have tried to get this back (rapid mockers or markup generators). But if you look at VB or iOS dev, you see that the native walled garden lets you flip back and forth. That was nice to me but of course it’s not required because if you look in the world people are building complex GUIs in web tech no problem. There’s another thing I think we lost which goes even farther back. If you wanted a GUI for a “backend thing”, say git splits. Git just punts this to the $EDITOR or an interactive prompt. The TUI. Or a curses window for other programs. I’m hoping one day we have tooling that is so good and powerful that backend people don’t feel unable to start in the ecosystem and a TUI wouldn’t even be an option, much like a mainframe screen (F1/F2..) app wouldn’t be created. I think the problem here is complexity and specialization. I don’t know if the entire problem can be simplified or generalized to even approach without dealing with the DOM or switching toolsets. Will we always have TUIs? Is text-mode always usable? Can web tech become universally useful or simple? Can we put a wall between unix CLI composition and something like curses (flags and pipes and the unix way continue to be proved)? What would this even look like? You have a CLI that takes flags and args but if you invoke without these things, it runs in interactive mode but it stays in the terminal using some magic future tech and the programmer didn’t have to step outside their backend expertise or ecosystem to get this done? I have no idea. I can’t even imagine it. on 5/26/2020, 9:04:43 AM

references Emacs Everywhere on 5/26/2020, 9:07:26 AM

references The web as a GUI toolkit on 5/26/2020, 9:08:00 AM