Web as the Platform

Every once in a while there are discussions about making things cross-platform or a big deal about it. Nowadays, this discussion is mostly limited to poweruser stuff like feature rich photo editing softwares, video editors or games.

A few years ago, there was a big concern about this but with the advent of Electron and the Web as a platform becoming even stronger, a new race has emerged that has the potential to put software innovation on a rocket ship.

The system-tied software seems like the old guard trying to catch up with the cool kids while the web keeps growing at breakneck speed.

When the internet came about, people thought it was not going to be much more than a glorified email, some people even thought that it was a fad. Some people still think that the web, as a whole, is going to crash. (whatever that means)

None of these, concerns, have proven to be true.

The web was due for a slowdown many, many times before.

While technologies like Wordpress came around. When Blogger was basically going to kill websites. Squarespace was going to put all programmers out of business. Free tools that generate websites were going to make everyone a Frontend Engineer.

None of those things happened.

Sure, more people can now make a website.

A pretty cookie cutter website, like the one that you’re probably reading this article on, but they still cannot do anything custom.

If you go to any freelancing site, it doesn’t take that long for you to come across one business or another looking to port their Wordpress website to something else.

This isn’t meant to be a diatribe against WP. I like WP and I think it’s fine, though, in my opinion, Strapi is much more powerful and much better for a long term solution.

Anyway, the point is, the web train did not stop at these little concerns and powered on.

While people out there are still looking for other people to make single page websites for them, increasingly, companies - big and small - are developing robust tools on the internet.

If you want proof that this is happening and that we will be seeing software after software tools come out on the web (software-like is what I mean, like the ones I alluded to earlier) then you don’t need to look much farther than what is happening in the PaaS boom.

SaaS was the obvious prequel to this, as if a signaling one.

Perhaps even more of a blaring alarm-like signal is WASM.

WebAssembly not only makes it possible - and this is all RIGHT NOW - to make desktop grade software on the web, but has the potential to emulate an entire OS right from the browser.

Is it a surprise that Google envisoned a whole OS based around a web-first ecosystem? I mean, sure, they were early, but not without reason.

Eventually we will see full fledged games on the web too with the help of WebAssembly. WebGL’s advent already made it so even children that make their first game in an engine like Unity can share it with the world on the web without any need for anyone to download a file.

But, all praises - that I could go on endlessly about - aside, here’s some different kind of praises.

What does this actually mean?#

Everyone wins. Literally.

What web allowed us to do when it came on, as a concept, was it saved us time and effort. That is what every technology does and every technology wastes less of our time and becomes more powerful with time.

Most of the features that used to be in luxury and powerful cars are now in normal cars, let’s say.

With the web, you are platform independent.

You can use Linux, Windows, MacOS, an iPad, a phone.

It would not matter.

No one loses.

All that would matter for things that are more powerful or less, is if your hardware can run it, we’ll eventually get to the point where that matters less and less for normal everyday users too as Moore’s Law effect dries up and more and more high power stuff is in a normal budget while industry takes up all the dedicated cards and stuff.

You can choose whatever weird configuration to your taste. Whatever browsers that you’d like. Whatever input methods that you like to use and it will all work flawlessly through the unified protocols of the web.

I personally see that alternatives to big time software would become a big thing. Users would start to take their web privacy more seriously and control more of what flows through to the internet from their machine. Cryptocurrencies will perhaps take another form, they might be in a weird territory now, but they’re probably here to stay much like social media or video games.

And eventually, game consoles and dedicated hardware would become even less meaningful.

This would mean more datacenters to more parts of the world which probably entails more connectivity, more informational exchange and best of all, all our ambitious ideas with cloud software, cloud media and cloud gaming all coming to life.

A lot of people assume that this means there will no longer be any ownership of your machine. I don’t think that’s true. I just think more stuff will be on the web than it is now much like just because the notes that you take in class are already in the books doesn’t necessitate that note-taking becomes useless or that no one does it.

Data archiving will probably become huge too as physical memory dies off for more and more people and they realise that this isn’t a permanent store that they have in their computer.

As it is probably evident, I could write forever about this subject.

But its suffice to say that it’s nothing short of a Gold Rush in the early stages waiting to happen as if there was an invisible boundry to cross.

Perhaps an economic web alternative that creates exchanges right on the web? Perhaps people at Meta are correct on some things, at least?

I couldn’t tell you the exact shape of it. Am I all in? You bet.