Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Google needs HTML5 and JavaScript

I've been following the Twitter stream for Google I/O, it's been fun to watch (cool that everyone got a phone).

But why are they giving developers phones? Well, being at Sun, I know the strategy: you capture developers, and many good things flow from this.

The other effort to capture developers is all the stuff around HTML5 and making JavaScript faster and better. Take a look at Tim O'Reilly's great post that summarizes the many cool HTML5 features that are already available in most browsers, things like a native JavaScript canvas and easy embedding of videos.

Why is all of this so important to Google? Because if JavaScript and HTML doesn't get much better quickly, then developers will move to the RIA model (ala Flex or Silverlight or Java) to get the beauty and dynamics they need for web-based applications.

And this would be a Big Problem for Google, it seems to me. Why? Because you can't crawl RIAs. You can't add AdSense RIAs. And ads are the cash cow for Google.

It looks like they're doing a great job though - the developers at the Google IO conference are very exicited. My suspicion: the web browser is going to win over RIAs like Flex and Silverlight, because it (a) developers are already used to JavaScript and the browser and (b) it works today on mobile web platforms like the Android and the iPhone and Palm's WebOS.

And by the way, if you're building a rich UI in JavaScript (or in any rich internet app environment), then the role of the server becomes very different - it stops being responsible for handling UI events and generating UI, and instead becomes a simple provider of web services. Just like the good ol' days. I think there are a lot of interesting consequences from that architectural change...

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