Who Killed the Desktop Application?

Delorme is similarly stuck in the past - I attempted to use it for creating bike route maps since manually tracing Google Maps at bikely.com was a tedious way to calculate elevation. It’s easy to imagine how a modern interface could outshine something where you’re tracing roads by hand with a mouse - something like clicking on each intersection with an automatic update for distance, cue sheet, etc. It actually took longer to fight with Delorme’s 1997-era interface for adding points and it was often necessary to force the routing engine not to be “smart” in spectacularly stupid ways (e.g. making substantial detours to a 65mph freeway rather than a much shorter jog through a 20mph zone) - and as if the usability hit wasn’t bad enough, the maps had lower visual quality and soaked a couple gigabytes to store that inferior data.

Just installing and patching Delorme took longer than tracing a month or two’s worth of riding…

Microsoft’s Live Maps uses Autoroute’s/Streets and Trips’ routing engine. It’s much better at finding a good route (at least in the UK). Google still tries to route via M4/M25/M1 if travelling from Maidenhead to Northampton.

re: Andy + desktop RSS readers

Funny, I’m the opposite, I HATE web-based readers for their lack of speed and power and ability for me to customize them as I want. I’m a FeedDemon user and love it.

Saying desktop vs. web is a rather simplistic view though, when actually what Newsgator Online and FeedDemon do is the way of the future. You can use FeedDemon, a Windows-based desktop feed reader, with all it’s power and speed and yet all your feeds are synchronized with Newsgator Online, so if you are on a machine that doesn’t have FD then everything is still kept in sync and viewable from their web-based client.

The power of desktop apps when you’re on your main machine with the freedom of going web-based when you need it. That is more the future of products than this us-vs-them attitude of desktop vs. web. In a more general form the real future is service back-ends that both desktop and web-based applications can interact with. For example there is no way you could pay me enough to upload and tag my flickr photos from the web-based UI, it’s just too slow when working with large amounts of photos. A desktop app is the only way to do it quickly. Another example is time-tracking applications. I’d much rather work with a widget in my tray to start/stop tasks than an open web-page in a browser.

I suppose it’s people’s basic nature to gravitate to a two-party/two-opinion/dualistic way of thinking but the real power is when both are combined.

“But Streets and Trips seems to be completely stuck in the old world mentality of toolbars, menus, and right-clicking.”

Erm, but that screen shot of GM shows toolbars and that ‘more’ bit is prolly a menu, the only thing that GM lacks is right-clicking, and Apple has had that ‘advantage’ for quite some time.

As a tangent, am I the only one who thinks all of this ‘rethinking’ of the WIMP paradigm has produced alot of user interfaces that are fairly similar to the user interfaces that are used in games?
What I find striking is the usage of multiple ‘pages’ to represent different aspects of the domain (as in ‘Search Results’ ‘My Maps’), games are rife with these type of views.

It’s the feedback cycle, something a web application does particularly well at.

Secondly, being a free service, users don’t have the expectation that a user interface remain stable. This makes an app easier to change and adapt the user interface.

The bit about data intensive is important as well… refer to Jim Gray’s talk about querying astronomical data.

The power of a universal browser plus URLs is means that web-based Maps is viral, and exposes more users to their user interface, thus perpetuating the virtue of feedback.

But when you use Google Maps, you are getting computer time on a machine that is way better than your own, or a combination of machines anyway. I’m not surprised it’s faster, although there is no reason why Google’s thing should be any better

Hey there,

and even if you don’t have your laptop with you, you can still use Google Maps on your Java ME enabled phone.

Regards, David

One feature that I really use a lot in google maps is “my maps” where I can store my points of interest and access them wherever I am.

Oh yes, the answer to your question: Internet killed the desktop application!

Does that 3 seconds include opening your browser?
Do you close your browser ever? :slight_smile:

hgs - I would assume that he just looked up the address and it marked it. It’s more trouble than it’s worth to get the software to understand what end of the road the numbers start at, the size of each house on the road and all the oddities in order for it to even mark which side of the road that it’s on. If you want, you can move the pushpin manually to better reflect the exact location.

Thus proving that a bad interface is a bad interface ?

The Google Maps interface does not have to be good and the Streets and Trips interface does not have to be bad, it’s just good design on Google’s part and lazyness on the part of Microsoft?

I must say I have used google maps (and similar) on the web and used desktop mapping apps on my PC, but have not even heard of Streets and Trips? I suspect it is the usual “why should I buy a limited desktop app when I can use the up to date online version for free?”

As a tangent, am I the only one who thinks all of this ‘rethinking’ of the WIMP paradigm has produced alot of user interfaces that are fairly similar to the user interfaces that are used in games?

True. While regular desktop and office applications focus on functionality and then try to make it all accessible to user, important side of games design is easy and pleasant interface, because games must be fun, bring pleasure and relaxation.
To be fair, I’ve seen both elegant applications and ugly games. But they are quite rare.

But mapquest’s interface is somehow good because it is on the web? Obviously not. There were plenty of web mapping applications online before google maps came out.

A good interface is a good interface and a bad one is a bad one. Google happened to make a good one for the web, because google tends toward good interfaces and they make stuff for the web. microsoft did the opposite, because that’s what they tend to do.

A good web app will be better than a bad desktop app, but a good desktop app should almost always be better than a good web app. There question is is there a good desktop app available to solve the problem :frowning:

The only stand out feature in ST for me is “avoid area”. When you use the selector tool you can make a square, r-click and choose avoid area. Good for when you want to avoid a busy highway or when it tries to take you too directly to your destination (e.g., going through rurual roads instead of highways)

I bet gmaps could easily do that though :slight_smile:

Hmm, Google doesn’t create the best GUI’s, but man, that Street Trips app doesn’t look like its interface has been updated since Windows 95.

If you want to know who killed the desktop application, well, I think that application killed itself.

You’ve got it the wrong way around: all the innovation is taking place at Google, who releases their software on the web.

hgs: If you ask for directions to a place, I think google maps will actually tell you whether it’s on your left or right based on the directions you’re given to the location.

“Web applications are evolving online at a frenetic pace, while most desktop applications are mired in circa-1999 desktop user interface conventions, plopping out yearly releases with barely noticeable new features.”

  1. Obviously you haven’t seen Microsoft Office 2007.

  2. Desktop applications could, for the most part, remain comfortably in a circa-1999 status and still remain vastly superior to most web applications.

Web apps have to change rapidly because they suck. Desktop apps don’t have to change rapidly because they work just fine.

I’m going to jump out on a limb and confess that I really like Microsoft MapPoint. In fact, it’s one of the first things I install after installing the OS and security software.

As others have mentioned, the fact that it’s offline is critical. I use it to make maps and routes for getting around on trains and buses. There is no wifi in the middle of an abandoned military base, to put it lightly.

And when I’m online, then I just click the button to go to Live Maps and and satellite imagery and traffic info.

The UI of desktop applications have actually gotten worst, especially over the past few years. It all has to do with fancy and bloated UI.

Windows Vista is a perfect example. Unless you’re using the search feature, and chances are some obscure settings still can’t be reached by it, it takes a lot more clicks that its predecessor.

Same goes for the new nVidia control panel.

Personally, I think it has to do with the fact that people historically do not have a fast connection to the web, and hence aren’t so patient with navigating through to maze to get to what they want, since you to factor in additional load time.

Desktop applications on the other hand never faced that dilemma.