Phil Sim

Web, media, PR and… footy

Chrome ushers in next-gen web

When we started redeveloping the MediaConnect platform about two years ago, we took a massive gamble.

We had started adding a lot of application-style functionality to our site, which for the most part had previously been a typical media-style website. At that stage AJAX and Javascript was really starting to emerge as a far more powerful way to get stuff done on the web. We looked at tacking AJAX frills onto our existing site but I had the feeling that would only be a medium-term solution because I’ve long held the belief that web apps will eventually be indistinguishable from dekstop applications.

So we decided to go the whole hog. We started again from scratch, based the whole thing on the Ext javascript foundation and embarked on a pretty steep learning curve regarding building rich internet applications.

I adore what we’ve ended up in. However, we’ve had some negative feedback from our users. As with all heavy javascript applications there is an initial load time and for users who tended to jump into our site spend a few minutes and then leave again, I’m sure the slower load times have been annoying. However, our aim is to build a site rich enough in functionality that people will keep it open and when you use the site that way it screams because its not constantly doing the page refreshes.

I’m sure its going to take some time for people to get used to using rich internet applications as opposed to simply calling up web pages but I’m massively heartened with the direction that Google’s new Chrome browser takes us in. All the architectural decisions appear to have been made around building a browser built for the world of rich internet applications, which of course they need because so many of their web properties like gmail make such heavy use of javascript.

Of course, Firefox 3 and IE8 both work much better with JS-based sites as well but first impressions of Chrome seems to indicate that it takes that objective to a new level. Most importantly, Chrome is going to ensure there is fantastic competition and innovation in the browser space and that can only 

At times, I’ve questioned whether we might not have been better making that interim move while we waited for the rest of the web to catch up. But Chrome makes me feel like we did the right thing. We’re learning every day about what works and what doesn’t and we’re able to move full-steam ahead with our platform which I think is going to give us tremendous competitive advantage against competitors who at some point are going to have to do a lot of rewriting to really take advantage of the rich internet application paradigm. 

A lot more about our platform next week…

Filed under: AJAX Challenge

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