I closed some obsolete windows on my laptop today and I noticed something interesting. I had three windows remaining, which I never close. They are:
Now the interesting thing is that within Notes, I had about 10 different tabs open, some of which were emails, some of which were collaborative documents. Within Firefox, I had four different tabs open for different websites that I was visiting. Within Rational Software Architect (a product built on top of Eclipse), I had several different perspectives and many views open, each of which shows me a different aspect of modeling and coding artifacts.
Handles to the three platforms in the Windows taskbar
Each of these windows represents a different application-hosting platform, none of which are dependent on the underlying Windows operating system. In the future, via the IBM Workplace platform, I'll be able to access the same emails and collaborative documents in either an Eclipse-based shell, or a web browser; so the Notes client platform, as a unique architecture, will go away and be subsumed by the Eclipse/web pair.
Both Eclipse and the web are strong in their own way, and this topic has been discussed ad nauseum, so I won't go into it here. But this situation brings up some interesting questions:
Will Firefox and Eclipse ever be merged somehow?
Both are open source, both have architectures built around the micokernel + extensions pattern. Would it make sense to have "web browsing" simply be a perspective within Eclipse? My guess is no, simply because the brilliant architects from each platform wouldn't want to abandon their architectures for another.
Will Workplace deliver on the promise of managed rich-client deployment at web-deployment costs?
The two biggest strengths of the web as a platform are its simple usage model but also it's extremely cheap cost of client deployment: click a link and you've deployed a new app to your desktop; click reload and you can deploy a new version if one's available. The folks over in Lotus-land are working on a solution that would give this same ease of deployment to the Eclipse rich client platform. The idea is that when you start your Eclipse-based product it automatically provisions new versions of components and new data, just like your web browser does everytime you hit a web site.
Now I know many would argue that the web usability model is still preferable for many types of tasks, and I would agree. But there are some instances where people are driven to the web platform purely because of deployment costs, and in this scenario, I'm really hoping that the Workplace folks can deliver on the vision of client deployment costs approaching 0.
Three windows, three platforms; soon it will be two