Applications vs User Interfaces:
Many people here are confusing UI with Applications. UI is only part of an application, not the entire application. Even the author seems to blur this definition a little too much IMHO. My guess is that, from a functionality perspective, the two applications are very similar. The fact that the web application is accessible remotely gives it an edge if you ask me.
Some might say that standalone applications have the advantages of working offline and access to stateful storage. These issues are being addressed by libraries (DOJO) and browser technology improvements. I suspect that if there is a will, there is a way. These issues will eventually be resolved, like many others.
Flash has been around for quite some time. Yet in this time, another language/platform has come out on top as THE language for this generation of web based applications. Why is that? Flash is certainly capable of producing amazing applications (UI and functionality). So, why hasn’t it gone ‘mainstream’… Why hasn’t Google made a flash version of Google Maps? There are applications around, but why aren’t the big boys using it?
Flash certainly has its advantages, particularly in the graphics department. But these advantages will diminish as new open technologies become more readily available (SVG and Canvas for instance) Also, Flash doesn’t have to worry about the underlying browser as much. This is still the case, even with the latest fancy framework or library… Things have become much better than they were, and that alone has been major contributing factor behind web 2.0. As libraries and frameworks have matured, hopefully browser vendors will start to adopt standards better cough Microsoft cough… That could be a big ask though, it might not be in their best interest after all…
“As useful and as clever as Torrent’s web UI is, I’m still deeply disappointed. I’m disappointed that, with all the technology at our disposal, we can’t come up with some way to deliver a full-fidelity user interface over the wire for an application as nifty as Torrent.”
You are making the assumption that the interface will not improve over time. You are also making an assumption that the platform upon which the web client exists will also not improve. These things will come, and soon, it will be impossible to tell the difference between the two. In fact, there will probably only be the one web application.
As a side point, I would have to say that the interface in mutorrent is pretty horrible. A better example of good user interface design for a torrent program might be found in say Transmission for OSX. Perhaps this is just something to do with Windows application UI’s, they always seem so complicated to me… But, lets not go there.