Product & Startup Builder

The web as a platform - With Touchstone Alerts

Added on by Chris Saad.
Recently the issue of client-side vs. server-side has been foremost in our mind. It's been a hot topic internally and most recently Read/Write Web did a story comparing the two worlds citing Touchstone as an example of software that bridged the gap between the web world and the desktop world.

I think this message is key. The new, evolving web operating system is an important paradigm change. Loosely coupled applications that deliver a host of services (many that were once provided on the desktop) are already changing the way we think about software.

Ultimately though, the web delivery mechanism - the browser - has limitations. I like to call it a sandbox. Your web applications can play in the sandbox but they never really matter. They never quite make a difference in the 'real world'.

Sure this might change when the loose couplings become less loose, and the standards become better defined (like Ray Ozzie's web clipboard and Microformats) but ultimately the browser's paging and post-back model (if you like it or not even Ajax requires posting back to a server to get most of its info) can never come close to achieving the 'escalating alerts' that we achieve with Touchstone.

The ability for a semi-transparent, non focus stealing alert to appear on your desktop while you work is simply not possible (not to mention the ability to index your HDD looking for Attention Data) from the browser.

Also, God forbid you browse to another page. Then the web-app has lost all hope of reaching the user until they come back or check their spam filled inbox (or one of their ever increasing widgets stuck firmly on the wallpaper behind all their 'real' applications)

In short - the Touchstone team passionately believes in the web. We even believe in the evolving web operating system. We believe in it so much that we are building Touchstone as a desktop application.

How does that make sense? It makes sense because we believe all those web-based applications will need a way to alert the user 'beyond the browser sandbox'.

As Richard said on Read/Write Web:

"There is a place for both webified desktop apps and browser-based apps. Indeed the browser is basically just a desktop app at its most generic."

If the browser is the desktop app that lets you view web-based apps, then Touchstone is the desktop app that lets you view alerts from web-based sources.