Software and Computer Engineering

It's Over, The Web Has Won

There was once a very clear distinction between an application and the Web. You used applications to produce a document, retouch an image, edit a video together, while the web was for consuming information, by browsing static pages and clicking links.

These lines have blurred with modern browsers, mostly driven by Chrome's dominance. By allowing the Web to be more capable, just like a typical desktop application, work in a team was transformed forever by online collaboration tools, such as Google Docs.

Today we can get almost everything that we want from a computer done in the Web, from the typical editing of text documents, presentations, spreadsheets, to designing 3D models with SketchUp, editing photos with Photopea, designing UX with Figma, and playing games.

By bringing together a hassle-free no-installation-required experience with a business model change from a one-time-payment model to a free ad-supported model, many web-based companies have achieved consumer mass adoption and valuations in the billions.

Even when you install something in your computer, it's possible that it is web-powered! This is the case for chatting using either Slack or Microsoft Teams, listening to music with Spotify, making video-calls with Skype or even programming with VS Code. The fact is that the web has achieved the long-sought-after dream of “write once, run anywhere” of Java.

The native software has been relegated to specific high-performance professional applications, such as industry-leading video, audio, photo editing applications; graphically-intensive triple-A games; already mass-adopted software, such as Microsoft Office; or, to a lesser extent, slow-moving specialized software, such as engineering software. And I haven't even touched the new business that the Web enabled, transforming the world's everyday life with e-commerce, social media and mobile communication.

The point being, the web has already won. Web is the de-facto primary computing platform and the main way most individuals interact with a computing device and software today. Going forward, I expect that an ever increasing fraction of professionals get all their work done on the Web, for better of worse.