Jon Udell at Infoworld, in commenting about the XML/Office storage brouhaha has along the way effectively raised a broader challenge that is well worth considering seriously – especially by pretenders to the RIA -Rich Internet Applications or 6As crown. For these ISVs the challenge is simple:
Build a text editor/mailer (see Gamma et alia Design Patterns book for ideas) that can deliver more than Wordpad or Outlook but operate in a confined space, say less than 1MB. It may want to call on Web Service for such heavy weight requirements (in terms of diskspace) as Spellchecking, ClipArt, IM Services, etc). But it must be able to run in offline mode as well as online – many users will want to run offline as well as online. Typical 6As requirement. It also should be cross platform. This is another 6As requirement meaning able to run on a desktop or a PDA or a web page with graceful removal of services as required by the device.
Finally, it would be nice to deliver to stored output in XML format – the implementors having their choice of delivering to Microsoft or Oasis. By being a direct subset of one of these two XML format it should be directly readable by the corresponding software.
What is the Reward ?
First and foremost this could be a great demo vehicle for an ISVs RIA/6As solution. Can you imagine the positive mindshare of being able to deliver a better than Wordpad editor that demonstrated your RIA solutions capabilities ? Not too shabby. With a nifty solution you might be able to make it a a permanent advertising vehicle through freeware distribution. Or recoup the expenditures through a free-lite version and charge for full version.
The key is to see what RIAs, Smart Clients, J2ME or whatever 6As solution can practically deliver. I can think opportunity with REALbasic or Flex 2 or Groovy or … my gosh, Jon really spawned a demo dream opportunity.