Archive for March, 2006

OS Y: Experimental Web Application Environment

Windows and Dock in JavaScript

Like so many things, OS Y started with I wonder if….

I was thinking about updating the look of my site for OS X specific products, But I did not want to create yet another web site look where folks have to figure out how it works first. It would be neat if it has some connection to OS X, as OS X users are the target group of this site. So there it was: I wonder if I could create something Dock-like on a web page…. To my surprise that wasn’t all that hard, though a lot trial and error to get the effects look halfway decent.

From there the obvious next step was that clicking the icons in my dock would open windows. So a simple JavaScript-based window manager was next.

First all code was targeted to Safari users only. I know the nightmares web developers go through trying to get CSS and JavaScript to work similar on the large number of browsers and their versions, and did not want to go there. But I checked some. To get it to work on FireFox did only require a few tweaks, FireBug made that task pretty easy. Once it worked on FireFox, it also worked OK on Mozilla and Camino, with the exception that moving windows behaves erratic. Kind of odd, as the code is similar to the resize code which appears to work fine… Next I checked was OmniWeb. Given that like Safari it is based on Apple’s webkit, I did not expect a problem. But to my surprise it doesn’t seem to do anything at all… Though OmniWeb does have a JavaScript Console, it stays mysteriously silent. And there seems to be no documented way to print debug messages to the JavaScript Console to aid debugging. IE Mac does not appear to do anything either, but with all it’s known bugs that was no surprise.

You can try OS Y on your browser here.

Whereto from here

I believe the idea of an ‘OS’ in the browser has potential. In the (real) olden days there used to be main frames and terminals. Then PC’s became so powerful that mainframes became more and more obsolete. But I believe the future will see web browsers as terminals to the Internet MainFrame. People will be able to access their data from everywhere there is a web browser. IMAP made this possible for EMail, web based EMail browsers such as Squirrelmail allow to view and organize EMail from any web browser. From there it is not really a big step to web based word processors, spreadsheets, Photo albums PIM etc., with personal data stored on some data farm, accesible from everywhere. Many of these solutions already exist. Maybe the computer tomorrow is nothing but a web browser, and we will see a renaissance of WebTV-like appliances.

As far as OS Y is concerned, who knows. A menu bar would be the next logical addition, then some real applications and not just web sites making use of OS Y’s functionality. And maybe it’ll get me a job at Google…

March 5th, 2006


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