Technology Blog, by: David Monaghan.

The Long List of Web Applications

Posted by David on April 11, 2006

Welcome to the beginning of many articles focusing on web applications where I, David Monaghan, will be contributing reviews of these applications to this blog by following the guidelines discussed later. First I will explain my plan on how to present this information as well as my reason for doing so.

This article is still under construction and will be the focus of my work on this blog until it is refined to my satisfaction, at which point I will move on to reviewing the applications. Each application review will be presented on an individual article and will be categorized on this blog in the categories which match the functions it provides. In the next few paragraphs I will explain my reasons for starting this project. Obviously if you're interested only in the information you're more than welcome to skip ahead to the next section, 'Global Web Application Information'.

I've been a professional user and a hobbyist developer until recently, I started with web development and every time I try to escape I am led back here. Now that I'm finally taking the time to really develop a web application there are a ton of other people doing exactly the same thing. It's not that five years ago there weren't many new web-apps being developed and released but nothing compares to what's going on these days. Often one of the first things to be identified when starting a business is a function; This is best determined by viewing the current market and identifying demands which aren't being met. This series of articles is the beginning to my solution to the question, "Which demands are being made on web applications which aren't being met?" I am going to identify these demands being made by myself and those around me by looking at current software (web or otherwise) and common functions which we collectively use. Rather than identifying a particular application as a solution I prefer to see functions being provided by them and the abilities of the applications regarding these functions. By first identifying these functions and how they can be implimented I should find a very fine set which is easier to translate to real world usage rather than remaining focused on an application as it's used or viewed alone or as a piece of software in one genre of other solutions. As the information is added I believe patterns will emerge of covered and uncovered functions which can be used to asses the current market of web software and which pieces are missing.

I've been keeping my eye on web applications for a while now, it's always been obvious to me that the easiest way to develop a cross platform and rich application is via web technologies. Linux, Apache, MySQL, HTML, XML, CSS, JavaScript, PHP, Perl, and Ruby. All free. These technologies make up the vast majority of web applications on the internet today, I started learning HTML and was referred to the rest when teaching myself to build and publish web applications and it's become apparent that not only is the web the easiest way but it is the best way. Many developers are seeing the same things I am, there is a flood of services and companies using various business models to offer free and rich applications to the masses, and the users are starting to trickle in already despite the fact that hardly any of these services is out of testing stages of development. Many of the business models revolve around a system parallel with Flickr; A full and free service which attracts users and offers more professional services available for a fee. This seems to be working well for these start ups in many different ways, Flickr as most know was purchased by Yahoo! but what is really amazing is those services which seem to have little concern over making money, however this is a false perception, these types of start ups are (if popular) often seeded by investors or bought by giants, e.g. Digg and del.icio.us, this offers a sort of high-risk incentive to start-ups who have little capital but lot's of knowledge and enough time to design, create, and publish (host) something which is highly useful.

With all of these changes I've found it hard to catch up with the mass, there are plenty of great ways to find services like this but it takes a lot of time to also research the applications once they have been identified and located. Then comes in 'The Long List of Web Applications', this series of articles is my solution to this dilemma, for myself and those who may be on the same adventure or who may just be looking for a good solution to problem X. A good list of the services needs to be created and organized and should include thorough reviews which examine a standard set of elements among certain groups of applications. I thought of trying to organize such a list into categories on one page but soon realized that many of the services wouldn't be able to be categorized into only one section and I didn't want to list any one service more than once (I hate needless repetition). The solution to this will be to document how this information will be collected and categorized, categories will be created on this blog to contain individual posts which will represent one service. These posts will be placed in the categories matching the functions of the application (thank God WordPress.com allows multiple categories) so that browsing them may be as simple as possible.

Global Web Application Information

As you should now understand this document doesn't contain a list of the web applications which have been or are being reviewed, the application reviews will each be contained on individual pages. What this document does list is the standard set of elements which should be included in the review of every application without getting into details relating to specific functions, that will be covered later.

  • Application Name
  • URI
  • Company Name
  • Company Birth Date
  • Privacy Policy (Light Version)
  • Terms of Service (Light version)
  • Licenses Used (for Service and Pontent Provided by Users)
  • Version History (with Changelogs)
  • Business/Service Model
  • Costs
  • Server Technology
  • Application Framework
  • Application Language(s)
  • Internal Data Formats (Security)
  • Import/Export Data Formats
  • Average Bandwidth
    • CPU
    • Memory
    • Hard Drive
    • Network
  • User Interfaces (Screenshots)

For applications which are hosted on the web there are some different aspects which should be noted;

  • Hosting Solution(s)
  • Geographic Location of Server(s)
  • Average Downtime
  • Advertising

While this list contains everything which should be documented for every web application, it doesn't contain everything which should be documented for individual web applications. Before we discuss more information about specific applications we need to identify types of applications and organize them accordingly, this can prove to be difficult. Luckily we can use a system which is fairly open in organizing content in that WordPress allows blog posts to be contained in one or more categories defined by the blog's administrator. Because when looking for a web application a user most often has a function or a set of functions in mind I've decided to organize these tools by their function. Once these functions have been identified and organized a category will be created to represent each function. The first post under each category will provide the information which guides the reviews of software with the function corresponding to the category, after of course a definition of the function.

Application Functions

On to defining the functions, which again define the categories. This list is a work in progress which I personally started months ago and have slowly worked on, it was designed to account for all pieces of software a computer could have installed on it's hard drive but it is now being extended to identify the demands of today's computer user(s).

You may wonder at first why some of these functions listed don't seem like they should be provided by web applications, you also may notice that this list doesn't seem to reflect the actual software types available today. Surely there are at least a few of these functions which can't actually be performed on a remote machine (oh imagine the horror if this wasn't the case), however web applications might provide a function which is somehow related to this function and might provide it for the server it runs on but has a web interface. Also you should know; This list is my dream of the future of software, in this dream there are well thought out services which perform a very limited set of functions with one focus in mind; "To be infinite in nature." Translation: Easy access, no limits, standards compliance, and integration with other software whenever possible. Many applications today have elements which are locked down to a small scope of information associated to the function provided, my biggest complaint recently has been over contact organizer software. I feel that I should be able to keep information for my contacts for at least the following; Birthday, baptism, wedding, child birth, and death. Not one piece of software I have used will keep track of all of this (in a user friendly way), and I have many more things that I would like to keep like; Graduation, election, promotion, retirement, etc. Let's not forget that some people don't have just one wedding, one child birth, one anything, if I want to keep two death dates why shouldn't I be able to? Someone out there has died twice I know it, and if I knew someone who did I would want to keep track of it in my handy software (when was it Jimmy died the first time anyway?)

My idea of this perfect set of functions which software should provide makes up the contents of this list, however far from reality it may be. I'm not trying to imply that one piece of software should provide each of these functions, in some cases I feel software suites, bundles, or "multi-function" applications are actually the best solution. Note: I tried to rate the list of functions by importance but don't quote me please…

  • BIOS
  • Filesystem
  • BootLoader
  • OS
  • Command Prompt
  • Programming Language
  • API
  • SDK
  • IDE
  • Host (Service, Server, etc.)
  • Network
  • Browser
    • Local
    • Network
  • Firewall
  • Anti-virus
  • Spy-ware/Ad-ware/Mal-ware Detection & Removal
  • Backup
  • Performance/Analyze
  • User
  • Calculator
  • Media
    • Text Viewer
    • Image Viewer
    • Audio Player
    • Video Player
    • Text Editor
    • Image Editor
    • Audio Editor
    • Video Editor
    • Text Creator
    • Image Creator
    • Audio Creator
    • Video Creator
    • Drafting
    • Model
    • Animate
    • Index
  • Messaging/Communication
    • Text
      • Snail Mail
      • EMail & Mailing List
      • RSS
    • Auido
    • Video
    • Newsgroup
    • Forum
  • Encyclopedia
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Translator
  • Spreadsheet
  • Presentation
  • Asset
  • Process
  • Project
  • Contact
  • Calendar
  • Search
  • Syndicate
  • Aggregate
  • Dashboard
  • List
  • Map
  • Route
  • Track
  • Shop
  • Auction
  • Stream
  • Publish
  • Bookmark (Placemark)
  • Journal
  • Forum
  • Catalog
  • Comment
  • Rank
  • Proxy
  • Cache
  • Voice to Digital Text
  • Digital Text to Voice
  • Analog Text to Digital Text

Have I Heard of, Have I Seen, Have I Tried…?

I'd be glad to get input regarding not only the function list but also the list I'm not making of web applications, I have already seen a good amount of them but know there are probably twice as many or more that I haven't. I'm currently using Del.icio.us and Ma.gnolia to keep track of these applications, here are the links;

Those I've used: Ma.gnolia, Delicious.

Those I've seen: Ma.gnolia, Delicious.

Those I've heard of: Ma.gnolia, Delicious.

If you're looking for one big list you can have it, the previous three we're generated by pulling up my bookmarks using the webapps tag and a tag set I devised to organize them (iveused, iveseen, iveheardof). I have also tagged some of them with keywords describing the service but need to do more of that.

See all of the webapps I have bookmarked; Ma.gnolia, Delicious.

Please give me your feedback, I'm working on this a lot in the background and have been anxious to know what everyone thinks of this project. I've actually been thinking about changing the scope of these articles from web applications to just applications or to technology in general. Please let me know what you think about a scope change, the list of web applications, the idea in general, or just the direction of this blog. You can reach me, as usual, at monaghan.david@gmail.com.


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