What is an application?

Peter Drayton asks: "What is an application?"

The Google Applications directory is a nice idea ( Googlematic is great!), but it raises the question "what is an application?". For example, is Dave's Googlebox an application? How about Sam's modified Related box? When someone implements this , what will we call it? Web services are going to challenge many of our current assumptions about how software is created, distributed, integrated, consumed and monetized. [ Peter Drayton's Radio Weblog ]

A great question. Here's a non-Google-related aspect of it. I have a new computer, it has MS Outlook on it, I've decided to let it stay, use it, and see how the other half lives. (I've been on Netscape Mail primarily for many years.) Working through the filter setup, I looked for a way to do what I normally do in Netscape like so:

action="Move to folder"
condition="AND (to,doesn't contain,judell@mv.com) AND (cc,doesn't contain,judell@mv.com)"

Outlook can do this too, but in a different way. I had to write a filter that rejects everything as probableSpam, and then makes exceptions for the above cases. Having done so, I next wanted to share this with my friend Larry, because I know he runs Outlook, needs filtering, and hasn't figured out how to use it.

Perhaps it's only my inexperience with Outlook, but I don't see a quick way to transfer this behavior to Larry's instance of Outlook. The Outlook rules, when exported, are binary, not nice readable/editable ASCII like Netscape's exported rules. In any case, even in Netscape, there's no easy way to create this behavior, name it, export it as a service, and enable someone else to acquire it with a click.

There are a million things like this. People have to start expecting this to happen always and everywhere. Then, it will.

Former URL: http://weblog.infoworld.com/udell/2002/04/16.html#a195