The Linuxification of Webapps

Benjamin De Cock,

If you read this, you certainly know I'm a big fan of web technologies, especially CSS3. Those technologies are very easy to learn and to use, damn powerful and accessible on almost all modern devices. Building apps with them sounds like a great deal. Spoiler: it's not.

I've been waiting for so long the moment where web apps would be as mature as native apps, hoping each browser release could be a game changer. This moment hasn't come (yet) and I'm afraid it just won't come any soon. I see today web apps just like Flash and Linux for end-users: next version will finally bring all the awesomeness the world has been waiting for. But this moment actually never comes. Let me try to explain.

I'm not even talking about the streamlined payment process the App Store provides or the marketing boost Apple can give your app by featuring it, I really try to keep the focus on development and user experience here. That user experience is the most important thing about your app, and that user experience is by design better with native apps.

Take the iPhone User Guide for example. It uses web technologies to replicate a simple iOS-like navigation using a similar style. It's made by Apple, they know their own platform better than anyone. Thus, you can expect a perfect result for such a tiny app. Well, it's not. At all.

I'm not saying we should stop creating web apps. They're very useful in many cases (I don't want to install an app for a one-time hotel room reservation) and they'll certainly always be there. They're also less expensive if you want to reach multiple platforms (and you probably want to). But for most of the apps we use everyday, a "good enough" experience is not good enough anymore. People expect quality, Apple has set new standards. Do your customers a favour: stop experimenting, ship quality.