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I've been online since 1971 and I like to smoothe the way for everyone else. Among other things I co-founded Sympatico, the world's first easy-to-use Internet service (and Canada's largest).

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Saturday, March 03, 2007

Web apps need to meet high standards

As Web-based applications hit the big time (e.g. the recent launch of Google Apps), the Wild West culture of Web 2.0 becomes unacceptable. Users who aren’t early adopters, whether they pay cash or pay by looking at ads, will expect these apps to work solidly. This means, for instance:
  • It is no longer acceptable for Blogger.com to be down frequently, whether because of technical problems (of which there are quite a variety) or because its maintainers have the gall to schedule maintenance during the middle of a business day in North America. It’s not as though owner Google Inc. lacks money. (So I need to set aside some time to migrate to WordPress.)
  • Omnidrive can’t just disable file synchronization for some users without even telling them that it’s done so — that’s central functionality! That such a key issue should be treated so cavalierly has lost my confidence in Omnidrive — and without confidence there’s no way I’ll let them store my data, even though I know they’re changing their approach so that this particular problem goes away. (So I’ll be looking at alternatives, such as Amazon S3 combined with a local client such as Jungle Disk. I hadn’t actually started to use Omnidrive anyway, other than to try it out.)
I think there is a good chance of one or more high-profile service failures this year, which in addition to causing considerable embarrassment to the affected providers will serve as a wake-up call to those providers who don’t yet take reliability seriously enough. And will make it harder for startups to gain customers when they’re in competition with trusted (justifiably or not) names like Google and Amazon.

Such failure(s) will also have various pundits proclaiming that this reveals a serious flaw in the whole idea of Web-based applications, even though they’ll be wrong. (You read it here first.)

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