Extending the Web into the Browser

By Michael Flanakin @ 5:06 AM :: 1705 Views :: Technology :: Digg it!

Today, web applications are fairly self-contained. This is definitely a good thing, but is it time to take the next step? Web 2.0 is about extending past your own boundaries, essentially enabling software as a service, in a sense. What I'm talking about is exactly that -- extending the web past your boudaries and into your users', with the express intention of enhancing their experience. Think about how much you can enhance a user's experience with such integration. While today's browser is capable of such an experience, achieving it easily is not possible. With 4 major browsers and countless others (I can think of at least a dozen), developers are forced to target a select number of clients. This typically causes developers to either completely avoid this approach or standardize on one browser, which I think we can all agree is not desirable.

I started this post in January and, now that the IE8 beta is out, we see some of what I'm talking about in WebSlices. The problem here is exactly what I mentioned before -- nonstandard implementations. In the same breath, standards bodies are slow in this regard. For instance, we wouldn't have AJAX if it weren't for the nonstandard implementation in IE4 (or was it 5?). Either way, I want more. I want interactivity, not just a real-time snapshot of information. For instance, if I have a mapping aplication, I want to take all of the zooming and searching out of the web page and let the web content strictly focus on the mapping elements. Heck, for any application, separating primary navigation would be nice. I'm more concerned with easily enhancing the app, not just moving contextual controls up one level, tho.