Native and Web Apps

John’s article Native Apps Are Part of the Web had me thinking about my own history of apps and their relationship to the web.

I fell in love with the web in the mid-’90s, and in the ’90s I worked on browser-based apps — Manila (a blogging system and CMS) most prominently.

In the 2000s I continued my love affair with the web, but I started writing native apps: NetNewsWire, an RSS reader which downloaded feeds from the web and displayed content in an HTML view; and MarsEdit, a native client for posting to browser-based blogs.

Later I worked on TapLynx, a framework for web publishers to create iOS apps, and then Glassboard, an iOS and Android group messaging app with a web backend (and even an HTML app).

These days I work on Vesper, which syncs to a web backend, and OmniFocus, which syncs via WebDAV.

Each of these is a web app in the http sense. NetNewsWire and MarsEdit even had HTML views, and Glassboard had an HTML-based version. For Vesper I even wrote a server, which was the first time in a decade I’d done server-side work.

Which is just to say that the distinction between native and web apps isn’t a true distinction. Since native apps are also web apps, and since native apps may also use HTML, the true distinction is between native apps and browser-based apps.

And I sometimes think about writing browser-based apps. I’m not anti. They’re cool, and I might write one again some day.

18 Nov 2014

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