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Is Google Wave Going to Have an Impact on RIA/Silverlight?

by Abel Avram on Jun 02, 2009 |

The recently announced Google Wave platform which is promoting HTML 5 is believed by some to have a major impact on RIA, including Silverlight, while others consider that Wave is actually a competitor for Microsoft’s SharePoint and Exchange rather than RIA. It's poll time.

The HTML 5 specification contains some long demanded features that will probably make inroads into RIA space, specifically Flash, Silverlight and Java FX. Actually, RIA platforms were invented because HTML was providing too little desktop-like experience. This is going to change. HTML 5 is not yet standardized, but elements of it are already introduced in Firefox, Chrome, Safari and Opera. Microsoft promised they will support HTML 5 too.

Some of the new features to be introduced in HTML 5 and web API proposals from W3C and WHATWG are: canvas, video, geolocation and web workers. Examples are already online and can be tested with the appropriate browser version. It is difficult to predict how HTML 5 is going to progress, it’s adoption rate, if it is going to reach the necessary consensus among major browser companies. Even its standardization is many years ahead. But things are changing anyway, and Google is pushing hard with Wave which is making extensive use of HTML 5. At the Google I/O conference, Vic Gundotra, VP Engineering at Google, said the company is “betting big on HTML 5”. He showed demos of using canvas, video, geolocation and web workers during his keynote. Also, HTML 5 features were demonstrated in Waves.

Nick Gall, a Gartner analyst, evaluated Wave’s possible impact on RIA:

The Wave client is a major proof of concept (or pilot project) for HTML5. If the wave client becomes a killer app, it will have a major (negative) impact on other RIA architectures.

Taking it even further, Sridhar Vembu, ZOHO’s CEO, placed HTML5/Wave against RIA/Silverlight in his blog post entitled Microsoft Silverlight vs Google Wave: Why Karma Matters. While praising Silverlight as a great technology, Sridhar sees Wave’s negative impact on Silverlight as a result of Microsoft’s bad karma: “Microsoft just has so much bad karma in this industry that I cannot imagine a company like us trusting them on much of anything.” It all boils down to openness:

That brings us back to Google: today, it is Google which is driving web standards forward. That is why we at Zoho are firmly aligned with them, even if they are our primary competitor. We believe in an open web, there is plenty of opportunity for all of us. Could Google abuse its position? Well, I am sure they understand karma!

Tim Heuer, a PM for Silverlight, dismissed Sridhar’s claims:

Sridhar in that article should really change the title. It’s misleading and he doesn’t prove the point of the title.  What he explains is the buzz behind early alpha like Wave versus early stuff from Microsoft. … Sridhar tries to draw some analogy to Silverlight, but I think fails. He’s just throwing more FUD around Microsoft in general.

He is also defending Microsoft’s openness:

What I also find interesting is this buzzword of “open” – something Google is praised for.  Let’s take a look at Google Wave Federation Protocol.  What’s open about it is that they’ve created something and put it out in specification form (and put a .org domain around it).  If that is the definition of open, then why is Microsoft hammered for XAML?  We have a spec out there?  What about C#?  Heck, that’s an ECMA standard.  I see a bit of a double-standard here.  I’m not saying that organizations like Google and Microsoft shouldn’t continue this practice…in fact, the opposite.  But it does seem odd that a protocol built to serve a specific need that wasn’t already available in existing standards is being praised when that is what other organizations have been specifically slandered for in the past.  Seems odd.

Tim does not see Wave as a real competitor to Silverlight/RIA:

So is Wave going to threaten RIA platforms?  I don’t know.  Is it even an RIA platform?  I just think that all the messages about how Wave is pushing out things like Flash, Silverlight or JavaFX are unfounded at this point.  They all serve purposes.  Is HTML5 really what people are talking about here?  Fine, then draw that comparison and put some meat around it.  As far as I could tell, HTML5 is a working draft still.  To me as a developer (and as a user) this means that even once ratified as a standard, browsers will have to decide to support that (I know some have already)…and even beyond that-people have to use those new browsers.  The slowness of standards leads me to believe that RIA platforms will be around a while as there is some flexibility in providing RIA frameworks from commercial vendors.

Commenting to Tim’s post, Sean saw a different competitor for Wave: “[Wave] is more about competition with Exchange + IM + OneNote w/Sharepoint Integration + Outlook”.

A remark. Lars Rasmussen, one of the Rasmussen brothers that came up with Google Maps and Wave, confirmed Google's commitment to open source the code:

The primary reason we want to open source our code is actually adoption of the protocol. It’s not a simple thing to build a Wave system — we’ve spent two and a half years on the first one — and so we think adoption will go a lot faster if you can grab our code, look at it, and start out with that.

Perhaps this is a good moment for our readers to answer the question: Is HTML 5/Wave going to have a negative impact on RIA/Silverlight?

The article Google Wave’s Architecture explains why Wave is not just a tool.

PS. A clarification is needed. Wave and Silverlight do not compare with each other directly. Wave's effect on Silverlight is indirect. HTML will enter in the RIA space with HTML 5, taking a share from Flash and Silverlight. Google's heavy support for HTML 5 will contribute to that. There will be certainly companies rallying with Google around Wave and consequentely supporting HTML 5, plus companies interested in working in HTML. That's how Wave is going to have an impact on RIA/Silverlight/Flash. I'm not saying HTML 5 will kill Flash or Silverlight, not at all. It will have an impact. Readers are invited to express their opinion on how significant the impact will be through the poll. Thank you!

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I'm hoping it means pressure for IE by Russell Leggett

Wave itself, I think, may be competing with certain other technologies, but I think really its about Google trying to force progress on the web. Google is trying to bring something new into the world of internet communication. Its incredibly ambitious. But Wave the protocol aside, look at what its doing with technology. Its pushing html5 technology, fast javascript, but also Gears. From everything I've seen, this is a stake in the ground saying, "We aren't going to work with inferior technology. Let's push the web forward." If IE doesn't get into gear with a faster javascript engine and html5 support, they will outright be seen as legacy tech. Unlike maps and mail, IE doesn't get a free pass here. I hope it works.

Wave as a showcase for HTML5 by Sergey Ilinsky

Trying to see Wave as competitor to Silverlight or whatever else does not really make sense, since Wave is the architecture (or infrastructure), while Silverlight is a technology (or application), if I understand correctly.

Also, I think this whole HTML5 story used when introducing and then explaining Wave, is not really relevant to the Wave Client, at least it is not worth amount of references used.

To my knowledge, neither "geolocation", nor "web workers" are part of the HTML5 specification.

Sergey/

Application vs. communications plattform vs. development plattform by Stefan Wenig

What are we talking about here?

Wave as an app is cool, or rather it will be. As a plattform for communications, I believe that given Google's history, they'll be able to meet expectations.

But as a development platform? We don't even know wheter Google is going to make Wave one.

HTML5 is going to be one, but looking at what it is today, I don't see how HTML5 is going to be such a change plattform-wise. Including video and audio in the standard is cool, and the canvas will probably remove a few needs for Flash/Silverlight too. Google Gears might be no longer needed (after they extend HTML5 again, implement it in every browser, wait for every user to install it...)

As an app developer, I'd probably be most excited about history management and cross-doc-messaging. Overdue, but are those really game changers?

Developing new apps using HTML will probably still be a PITA. How is HTML5 changing this? It's still HTML, HTTP and JavaScript.

Rasmussen said: "we’ve spent two and a half years on the first one". Using Google's ressources. And still it crashes in the demo. Why's that? My guess is: Because the plattform sucks.

Re: Wave as a showcase for HTML5 by Abel Avram

Wave is three things: tool, platform and protocol. Please see: www.infoq.com/news/2009/06/wave
HTML 5 plays a major role in Wave, the tool.
geolocation and web workers are "web API proposals from W3C and WHATWG" as I mentioned.

Re: Application vs. communications plattform vs. development plattform by Abel Avram

Wave is going to be opened and is promised to be a development platform. Everybody will be able to create a Wave server, to extend the platform, to add gadgets and robots. They promise to open source it, and I want to believe them. There is no reason to not do so.
HTML 5 will certainly have an impact on RIA, but it is hard to appreciate how big it will be and how long it will take to have that impact. Many companies would prefer a standardized HTML solution for rich web applications rather than various proprietary platforms. It's looks natural. But, of course, Flash and Silverlight will continue.

The blog post was ridiculous by Dan Tines

As someone on another blog thread said, comparing Silverlight vs Wave is like comparing Octomom vs Wave.

And it's my understanding that Wave can't even run on straight HTML 5 (the drag and drop doesn't work, so you actually need Google Gears to make it work). Besides it'll be years before you'll be able to rely on HTML 5.

As usual, Google talks and a lot of people get suckered into their hype.

Re: The blog post was ridiculous by Abel Avram

Wave and Silverlight do not compare with each other directly. Wave's effect on Silverlight is indirect. HTML will enter in the RIA space with HTML 5, taking a share from Flash and Silverlight. Google's heavy support for HTML 5 will contribute to that. There will be certainly companies rallying with Google around Wave and consequentely supporting HTML 5, plus companies interested in working in HTML.

Wave needs Gears just for drag and drop, but it won't need it if DnD makes its way into HTML 5 as proposed. www.whatwg.org/specs/web-apps/current-work/mult...

Hype is part of life. It has always been and will be. There was huge hype around Microsoft in the past. Now is Google. Tomorrow, who knows?

Re: The blog post was ridiculous by Dan Tines

Wave and Silverlight do not compare with each other directly. Wave's effect on Silverlight is indirect. HTML will enter in the RIA space with HTML 5, taking a share from Flash and Silverlight.


Like Ajax takes a share away from Flash right now? The problem is that you're comparing an HTML 5 future to how things are today in the RIA space. In 2012-13, when HTML 5 is relevant, compare it to Silverlight 5 and Flash 13.



Google's heavy support for HTML 5 will contribute to that. There will be certainly companies rallying with Google around Wave and consequentely supporting HTML 5, plus companies interested in working in HTML.


The only companies that really matter are those that produce relevant browsers, which Chrome isn't at this time. Bottom line is when does IEx get full support for HTML 5 (which the spec for really hasn't been completely fleshed out yet).




Wave needs Gears just for drag and drop, but it won't need it if DnD makes its way into HTML 5 as proposed.


And pretty much irrelevant if it isn't supported in IE and other browsers.


I think the bottom line is that Flash, Silverlight will always be way ahead of HTML technology, and that there are tangible benefits for organizations like Adobe and Microsoft, and for developers when they don't have to rely on the idiosyncracies of various browsers (which could get worse if Safari for Windows, and Google Chrome make inroads).

Re: The blog post was ridiculous by Abel Avram

I think the bottom line is that Flash, Silverlight will always be way ahead of HTML technology, and that there are tangible benefits for organizations like Adobe and Microsoft, and for developers when they don't have to rely on the idiosyncracies of various browsers (which could get worse if Safari for Windows, and Google Chrome make inroads).


The post was presenting both views letting the reader to decide for himself and use the poll to express his opinion. As a personal opinion I commented that HTML 5 will have an impact on Silverlight due to Google's support through Wave, but I did not estimate that impact. I certainly did not see it as being imminent, and I did not imagine HTML5 wiping out Flash and Silverlight, no way. It's just that it will have an impact. 5%, 10%, 50% of the RIA space? I have no idea how far this will go in the next 5 years. Flash and Silverlight are here to stay unless their own companies kill them.

Re: Application vs. communications plattform vs. development plattform by Stefan Wenig

I was unclear: of course Wave is going to reach out to developers as a communications plattform. But it's just Wave-based applications, for doing Wave-like stuff, integration, add-ons etc. This is something completely different from a general-purpose plattform for any RIA, like Silverligt, Flex, and AJAX (with or without HTML5).

So how does Wave affect Flex and SL? By showcasing what's possible with AJAX and HTML5? What's really HTML5-specific about that? All you need is a modern browser with a fast JavaScript engine.

Of course Google can do magic with AJAX, they can invest any amount of money. Microsoft did Outlook Web Access in the late 90s (yes - they invented AJAX, not Google), but it was not until the barrier for creating similar apps lowered significantly before the rest of the industry took notice.

This time, with all the hype, people are going to notice, and Internet companies will continue to use AJAX. But for custom apps, enterprises are going to look for cost effectiveness.

You want to standardize? How about standardizing on one language and framework on the server (.NET) and the browser (Silverlight)?

HTML5 threatens Flash (not so much Flex) and SL through audio, video and canvas integration. I think that's about it. There's just more to Flex and SL.

Re: Application vs. communications plattform vs. development plattform by Abel Avram

Hi Stefan,
I think we are talking the same language with small variations.
I was unclear: of course Wave is going to reach out to developers as a communications plattform. But it's just Wave-based applications, for doing Wave-like stuff, integration, add-ons etc. This is something completely different from a general-purpose plattform for any RIA, like Silverligt, Flex, and AJAX (with or without HTML5).

Wave will have a greater impact beyond its immediate purpose. It has demonstrated some of the things that can be done with HTML 5, and this is just the beginning. Others will take the example and use HTML 5 for other projects. It will take time, especially because HTML 5 is in its infancy, but it will happen. The main obstacle I see is Microsoft's reluctance to use a standardized HTML 5.

Re: Application vs. communications plattform vs. development plattform by Stefan Wenig

So what's the big new feature in HTML5 that Wave needs? All I've seen is stuff that's possible already, and stuff that still needs Google Gears.

Re: Application vs. communications plattform vs. development plattform by Abel Avram

I mentioned in my article some of the HTML 5 features that Wave uses: drawing in "canvas", and video in "video". Could those be done without HTML 5? Sure. But Google chose to do Wave without Flash or Silverlight. That's the whole point.

Re: Application vs. communications plattform vs. development plattform by Stefan Wenig

You didn't mention that those are used in Wave, and I don't remember them from the video. They're not mentioned in your architecture link either. What's the canvas used for? Looks like plain HTML+CSS to me.

Re: Application vs. communications plattform vs. development plattform by Abel Avram

During the demo they play a chess game inside a Wave. I believe that's done using HTML 5's canvas. Besides, Gundotra showed an analytics 2D tool and a 3D demo with sea waves, torches, etc. Those are Javascript, generated with GWT, and HTML 5. Some demos: htmlfive.appspot.com/.

I will update the article with a mention that HTML 5 features were either present in Wave or demoed separately as stand alone web pages which could easily be included in Waves.

Re: Application vs. communications plattform vs. development plattform by Stefan Wenig

Now thats a gadget, not wave itself, and then rendering a chessboard doesn't quite require a canvas - a table will do.
So I assume the answer to my question - "what's the big new feature in HTML5 that Wave needs?" - is: none?

Re: Application vs. communications plattform vs. development plattform by Abel Avram

Wave Gadgets are part of Wave, like robots, and they are not rendered with Flash/Silverlight.

A chess board can be done in many ways, but they chose HTML 5. Wave is just at its beginning. But the way it looks, many things can be done inside Waves: video editing/playing, collaborative drawing, video chats, collaborative document editing including drawings. So, yes, canvas, video, geolocation, web workers are "big new features" used or to be used by Wave.

Re: Application vs. communications plattform vs. development plattform by Stefan Wenig

I'll let you have collaborative drawing, whatever that's good for. You're really reaching to justify a dependency on HTML 5, but it's possible.
But video editing/chatting? HTML 5 only plays back.

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