Universal I/O Box Software

AJAX is not over-rated, but it is just a transition stage – a long overdue transition from the stultified full-webpage refresh dynamics of many websites to computings Holy Grail – Universal I/O Box software . UI/OB is device agnostic, it runs anywhere with not only the same look and feel but the same core programming behind it. Let me suggest Bells Sympatic.ca GetMail or Amazon.coms product listings as how to drive customers away with the old, tired and tiresome fullpage refresh technology. AJAX apps like Google GMail and Calendar or KTools PhotoStore put these apps to shame with their crisp, AJAX-delivered, desktop fast response.

But AJAX is an impressive answer only because the Web interface has been kept woefully short of full fruition. This in turn is due to the fact that Microsoft tried to stop all progress on Web development by not updating its browser for 6 full years and counting including leaving Web standards like CSS, DOM, JavaScript in a state of great disrepair while blithely ignoring and/or stalling new Web standards and making sure the Java JVM was obsolete and useless. And business organizations fell into the trap hook, line, and sinker by adopting IE to 90%++ usage and not insisting that Microsoft support a current JVM. So organizations now have had to live with an inferior IE browser with a woeful security record, poorest performance, and worst feature set for the past 3-4 years because they committed to proprietary works-in-IE-only Web applications. But hey, Microsoft promised back in 1997 to “meet all the W3C and Web standards for HTML, JavaScript, DOM, CSS, etc.” So who can fault a guy for trusting Bill Saint Charity Gates ?

So now when organizations need to be ever more responsive, with “information at their fingertips” (t)Microsoft – they cant because Microsoft has waged a concerted campaign against interoperability and cross platform integration. Oh sure there are the Wormtongue pledges to Interoperability on their Website. But the bottom line is that Redmonds key goal is to make sure “apps work best in the Gate-d community known as Windows – and that Windows apps run best of all there.” So not only has IE backed off standards, but Microsoft has refused to develop for any other platform but the latest version of Windows (that is Vista and XP/SP2 for all you shameless Win2000, Win ME, WinNT, Win 9x users … and Win 3.x users, lets talk). Redmond has also steadfastly resisted any cross platform languages and utilities from DOM through CORBA and LAMP to Java (they even paid $2B to Sun for the privilege of running an obsolete version of the JVM through 2007). SOAP and Web Services were acceptable to Redmond only because they are declarative-only (no cross platform programming required) and Redmond had imported a lot of XML savvy. But even in the XML domain, Redmond is backpedaling from standards – no SVG, XForms, XPath2, and of course adamant refusal to support OpenDocument Format. In sum, not only is Microsoft the enemy #1 of the Web, but it is also the Pariah of Interoperability – remember apps must work best in Windows, and Windows apps must work best of all there. And what insures that canon better than a little lot of proprietary non-interoperability.

Now all of this is important because of the Universal I/O Box software and the fact that Google and the SaaS community are starting to deliver its capabilities. Another way to think of UI/OB is as the Universal Input/Output Box. It is a box (or think framework)because it is a standard collection of GUI interface element/components/APIs/Functions that work together on any device, any OS. I am just writing a review of GMail and other Google based services, one of the closest examples to Universal I/O Box software. Many of these tools utilize AJAX to start to deliver Universal I/O. But even Google has missed the advantage of what I call Universal I/O Box software.

Universal I/O Box Software

I really like Googles SaaSy combination of GMail and Calendar; however, Googles Calendar and GMail, regardless of how accessible they are (desktop and laptop webpages, even a bit of AvantGo mobile phone utility) – they still leave four things to be desired:
1 – any device support, so I can run the same program on PDA/Phone, desktop, MIT laptop – any time, anyplace, any device/OS;
2 – both online and offline operation – I want to be able to run the program offline building up calendaring, mail for use online;
3 – same basic GUI interface regardless of where or on what or when (offline or online) I run my Universal I/O Box software;
4 – from a programmers point of view, I want to be able to write the same basic code and have the App gracefully adapt to different devices, speeds, and bandwidth feeds. I dont want to have to have someone maintaining 3-5 different sets of I/O Box code.
Now the AJAX that helps to drive Googles GMail and Calendar currently are only starting to deliver on parts of 1 thru 4. However, there is nothing closer to my limited knowledge (send real Universal I/O Box references here)than Google GMail and Calendar to my Universal I/O Box. But also there is nothing to prevent AJAX from being the delivery vehicle for the Universal I/O Box – look how close Adobes Flash with its JavaScript based ActionScript is to being able to deliver UI/OB software as it runs on growing array of devices and operating systems, is fairly uniform in coding on all those devices, and permits both offline and online operation to some extent while offering a rich arrray of media to be deployed.

Demand for Universal I/O Type software

As sure as God and Moore made their laws, computing power is going to double every, 18 +- 4 months. Persistent storage capacity and bandwidth are beating Moores Law with the persistency that comes from computing being self-reflexive: better computers make better computers and supporting devices. For example, within 5 years WiFi and/or WiMax are going to be pervasive. And Wifi aware laptops for $100 are going to be spreading like wildfire – because they are aimed at communications and kids as enablers. As usual, hardware will be leading software, kicking and screaming as the enfant terrible it has been for the past 40 years, into the era of Universal I/O Software. My question is what software powerhouse is going to deliver UI/OB software first ? :
– Adode with their two relatively, sort-of universal Flash and PDF players ???
– Apple with their increasing any device savvy ??
– GNU/Linux with their runs anywhere OS and development tools ???
– Google with its we-know-how-to run-lots-of-computing-power-anywhere prowess ??
– Intel because they know better than anyone other than AMD how to turn software back into hardware ?
– Microsoft with its Windows-Uber-Alles thrust ??
– Sun with its Java runs anywhere and nearly as Open Source engine ?????
– Sybase with its commitment to run anywhere database and mobile apps ?
– Trolltech with its C/C++ and JavaScript run anywhere for a price ??
– W3C because they set the first widely accepted universal standards despite Microsofts “help” ?
Remarkably the game and race is on and many competitors just have an inkling that they are in it. This situation makes for great handicapping.

(c)JBSurveyer 2006, updated June 14th 2006