May 22, 2014

Why Desktop Apps Still Make Sense

So you think desktop apps will die a slow death? The sentiment of demise of desktop apps has been professed by many people, Jeff Atwood, Patrick McKenzie to name a few.

With colossal jump in our web technologies, both performance and capability wise, something that couldn’t have been possible few years back, the idea is getting even more traction. When you see demos like this, you are tempted to think if web browsers would be able to address the performance issue, what would withhold for web to be used for everything from games to essential business software?

So why do I think desktop apps still make sense?

So it boils down to how desktop apps are about writing code and shipping where as web apps require you to be there always. Although, you probably won’t lose customer over some little CSS issue but the way your mind works, you won’t be able to stop yourself from addressing it immediately and that is where desktop apps have an upper hand - you can prioritize which things to add / fix / remove in the next release. One example of this has been documented by Joel Spolsky.

As Excel 5 was nearing completion, I started working on the Excel 6 spec with a colleague, Eric Michelman. We sat down to go through the list of “Excel 6” features that had been cut from the Excel 5 schedule. We were absolutely shocked to see that the list of cut features was the shoddiest list of features you could imagine. Not one of those features was worth doing. I don’t think a single one of them was ever done, even in the next three releases. The process of culling features to fit a schedule was the best thing we could have done. If we hadn’t done this, Excel 5 would have taken twice as long and included 50% useless crap features — Painless Software Schedules

Whether or not desktop apps will cease, web apps certainly aren’t a de-facto choice when it comes to making a product.

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