· Naughties
· · 2006
· · · May
· · · · 19 (1 entry)

Continuations and GUIs · Gi­lad Bracha asks Will Con­tin­u­a­tions Con­tin­ue? in an ex­cel­lent es­say about whether the JVM needs con­tin­u­a­tion­s. Per­son­al­ly I have nev­er found them id­iomat­ic so I have no quar­rel with Gilad’s re­luc­tance, but I en­tire­ly dis­agree with the line of ar­gu­ment he us­es to back it up. He points out that Web frame­works like Sea­side make ex­cel­lent use of con­tin­u­a­tion­s, but ar­gues that that’s a red her­ring be­cause the cur­rent style of Web-human in­ter­ac­tion is a tem­po­rary anoma­ly and “the fu­ture of Web apps will be different”, with AJAX sign­post­ing the way. This no­tion, that the Web GUI is in­suf­fi­cient­ly in­ter­ac­tive and we need some­thing richer, is wide­ly held among de­vel­op­ers and al­most nev­er among ac­tu­al users of com­put­er­s, and it’s en­tire­ly wrong. I can re­mem­ber when peo­ple were forced to use com­piled Win­dows and X11 ap­pli­ca­tion­s, and most of them were ex­treme­ly bad be­cause it’s re­al­ly hard to de­sign a good in­ter­ac­tive UI; when the Web came along, more or less ev­ery­one aban­doned those UIs in fa­vor of the We­b, al­most in­stant­ly and with shrieks of glee. Yes, Web UIs are dras­ti­cal­ly con­strained, of­fer a pauci­ty of con­trol­s, and en­force a bru­tal­ly lin­ear con­trol flow; and these are good things. I re­mem­ber, in the ear­ly days, peo­ple say­ing “Once you know how to use one Win­dows ap­p, you know how to use them all”. Ha ha ha. But you know what? Once you know how to use a browser, you are well on the way to be­ing able to use most Web app­s. The best AJAX apps are still very Web-like (as in, the Back but­ton al­ways work­s); but they’re faster and more re­spon­sive and nicer to look at. The worst AJAX apps are like bad Nineties VB. Hav­ing said all that, I sus­pect that Gilad’s right about con­tin­u­a­tion­s. [Up­date: More good stuff on the sub­ject from Don Box and (e­spe­cial­ly) David Meg­gin­son. Plus a few re­mark­s, in a su­pe­ri­or tone, along the lines of “That sil­ly man, can’t he see that users re­al­ly want more com­plex us­er interfaces?” Al­l, of course, from de­vel­op­er­s.] [Fur­ther: Some pro-complex-interface re­marks that are ac­tu­al­ly co­her­ent from Si­mon Brock­le­hurst (but Si­mon, a good brows­er should pre-fill forms for you and get it right al­most all the time; Sa­fari does). And there’s more sol­id think­ing in HREF Con­sid­ered Harm­ful; I know who writes it but he seems to be try­ing to hide his iden­ti­ty, hm­m.] [Hrumph. Cur­tis Poe says I’m a Sapir-Whorf vic­tim, I don’t feel the need for con­tin­u­a­tions be­cause I’ve spent too many years us­ing pa­thet­ic, im­pov­er­ished lan­guages like C and Java. Wel­l, OK then; I promise to find a way to squeeze ’em in­to my Ruby-based com­ment sys­tem.]
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