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Two weeks ago I reported on new weblog software coming. Dan Benjamin is teasing us again about Postmaster:
Because of the way you've built the system, Postmaster v3 could easily grow into either a web-application (like a Movable Type) or a desktop application (like Photoshop, Word, or Winzip). [...] If it were to remain a web-application as it has been since version 1, users would need to find a place to host it themselves [...] So, maybe Hiveware hosts it for the world. Which means better control, fewer problems ... but then there's the overhead. Server maintenance. Bandwith costs. Less appealing. [...] Or ... create a desktop application with a slick interface. Make it complete. Stable. Fast. Embed a super-small database, and hide this from the user. Let them run the thing on their desktop. No server needed. A true desktop application. Would people want this?
Probably, yes. At least the ones who, like me, are fed up with the terrible interface you have to bear when constrained within a web browser. I see two streams emerging rapidly to solve this problem: desktop applications (yeah, finally the desktop UI strikes back) and Flash 6 "Rich Interface" applications. Radio Userland functions as a desktop application. Another example is Ranchero's NetNewsWirePro (Mac only, in beta), which is primarily a news feeds aggregator but sports a weblog editor compatible with several weblog engines. NNW builds on the idea that editing your weblog is better done while you also browse other weblogs and news sites (a complete weblogging experience?), and it demonstrates that the editor and the weblog engine are two different things. Note that Radio is primarily a weblog system but has also a news aggregator. You can quickly see two different breeds of desktop applications here. One that is tied to a weblog engine (Radio), another which is fairly independent and builds on mainstream APIs (NNW). The former can go much farther in terms of functionnalities because it is tied to the engine, the latter will remain more basic but allows you to manage several weblogs using different engines in the same application. The Flash 6 "Rich Interface Application" is fairly young but promising. Once the Flash developers get the idea behind XHTML+CSS and stop throwing old-school things such as font faces and sizes, colors, bold, italic in their production, we can hope to see excellent editors coming up. Flash 6 can be expected in two flavors: self-contained Flash applications (which are, then, desktop applications) or embedded within web pages (e.g. replacing the highly annoying HTML text area). This last option will be popular to help the existing web-based editors to ramp up with the desktop applications in terms of UI comfort. I wonder where Dan is heading to with Postmaster (actually from his last two posts, he's probably wondering about that too ;-). There is just one thing that bothers me on his last shot: "No server needed. A true desktop application.". Not even a web server?