Can web apps ever be fast enough?

May 11, 2007

I took my car for a service the other day. I’ve been taking it to the same place for years.

The guy asked me “when was the last time you had an oil and filter change?”

To which I replied, “I haven’t got a clue. I’ve been bringing it here for years so you should know.”

At that point the car mechanic quickly swung around his PC screen and within a few keystrokes had pulled up my cars details – all the last 10 years of service history. He was brilliant at getting around this app – all keystroke driven. And it was fast, fast, fast.

THIt dawned upon me that I’ve never seen a web app (even one served internally) that operates anywhere near even a tenth of this speed.

The trend is for everything to move towards web based apps at the present, but can we ever get response times like the good old client server? I suspect there will always be the need for both.

The tortoise beat the hare in the long run. Will web apps win out in time?

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4 Responses to “Can web apps ever be fast enough?”

  1. benkepes Says:

    which is one reason why
    a) we need a good fast reliable broadband service
    b) xero isn’t a given for everyone – if a business doesn’t need their accounting package to be online – it’ll always be faster with MYOB on a client/server config

  2. Dan Says:

    Yup. Xero is far from perfect (but a good start) and it’s gonna be interesting to see it go toe-to-toe against MYOB. You alluded earlier to some good open source accounting software. Can you recommend any particular one?

    Cheers, Dan.

  3. Jim Says:

    I don’t think that “client server” is the correct name, you’re assuming a networked topology there that may not be true … perhaps his whole client base was loaded into local RAM when the app started … but …

    Web apps will not be faster than local apps until network bandwidth is greater than local bus bandwidth. And that isn’t going to happen with the current architecture of “smart general purpose PC”. According to physics, it’s unlikely to ever happen unless we intentionally brain-damage the local machine.

    Web browsers are also slow at rendering output, whereas local apps are much faster. This gap should narrow, as local apps become less specific to output medium (think about changing screen aspect ratio, e.g. smart phones with twist screens like the jasjar) and browsers get better at their job.

    Why is this a surprise?

  4. benkepes Says:

    Dan – check out my post re competition for Xero – otherwise just google ERM and you’ll find some – we use MYOB because we have for years and can get away without offsite access but we’d move to an opensource ERP/CRM for sure if needs be


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