Project Bespin and the Future of Web UI According to Google
Last week, Mozilla Labs unveiled yet another innovative project called Bespin. Bespin is an online code editor. I shared my opinion on Online IDEs in the past (here and here). They open new opportunities, yet, we are still far from the promised land. I don't see a great difference between Bespin and other attempts I encountered (Eclipse E4, Heruko, DevUnity). The idea is not new. Yet, there is something very interesting about project Bespin.
The Canvas approach has its' drawbacks. The main caveat is that it is not supported in Internet Explorer, thus, will not work for the majority of the web users. That's where Google comes to the rescue with the Explorer Canvas project which enables the Canvas tag in Internet Explorer. I didn't test Bespin on IE with that extension from obvious reasons (I use a Mac). Let's suppose that in a couple of months, Google comes up with a better GMail UI, based on HTML Canvas: the result would be either a mass migration from IE to other browsers or IE adding native Canvas support. If I had to take a guess, I would bet on the former. Microsoft is already losing the browser war. IE does not need more nails in its' coffin.
So what can we expect next? Probably a GWT implementation which renders the UI using an HTML Canvas rather than plain HTML, taking GWT to the next level in terms of UI richness. Imagine the power of Java with amazing UI capabilities (much nicer than current Java UI frameworks) and a thin-client deployment model. That's the holy grail right there!