Using web services can be ugly…

Today I thought I’d create a prototype blog to show the CEO at the company for whom I work. Now…you’d think that my hosting provider, Typepad, would be fast. Nope…in fact is incredibly slow (and getting slower lately) and I ended up taking several hours to build a fairly simple blog. You’d think my audio provider, Audioblog, would stream quickly. Nope. Certainly speedy Gmail — the poster child for AJAX rich internet applications — would be super fast. Nope.

So what’s going on? Is this Web 2.0 thing real or is it comprised of doohickey’s stuck together with chicken wire and duct tape?

My earlier post about the "dirty little secret" of Web 2.0 is already at fruition with just these two services. Typepad is doing really goofy things like failing to load the WYSIWYG toolbar on my post page. It’s also dog slow so *all* actions to build a blog (colors, backgrounds, uploading files, building links) TAKES FOREVER!

Audioblog allows me to "publish" an audio stream and a Flash player (with cute VCR-like controls) straight to my Typepad blog. But whenever anyone loads my Typepad blog, it waits to load the player and waits again until the stream begins. The latency is actually pretty minimal…but seems to be growing over the last few weeks as Audioblog grows.

Browser based applications have always been slow since *all* data had to be fetched from the server to function. Then when the AJAX paradigm appeared (loading a huge amount of functionality in to the browser immediately so only minimal amounts of data had to be fetched from the server) everyone seemed to think everything would be just fine. It’s not.

As I do more and more on the ‘net with browser based web services offerings, I find myself more and more dismayed that they aren’t desktop applications with minor use of server side functionality.

Unless latency and throughput is addressed, it’ll really stunt the growth of Web 2.0.

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  1. Dan on October 19, 2005 at 10:12 am

    I work at a tier1 internet backbone company and sit about 20 feet away from an OC12 uplinked to an OC192, so throughput is not a huge issue most of the time. One thing I did notice, and it’s the first product to come out from this company that I honestly plain disliked, was Google’s new feed reader.

    It’s too damn slow, and the interface while pretty, is overloaded with javascript animation tricks. Gmail is awsome, but this new feedreader is seriously lacking in usability. The best thing about Google from the beginning was the homepage and speed of (relevant) searches.

    Sure Ajax, Ruby, etc are “cool”, but at what point does the cool factor outway the usability. I think some of these new web tricks are suffering from the flash-page syndrome. With things like public web access kiosks and dumb terminals gaining speed, video rendering speed is getting more important. I think they (designers) need to resist the “super-cool” interface temptations and focus on the basics of usability.

    My 3cents.

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Podcasting hit the mainstream in July of 2005 when Apple added podcast show support within iTunes. I'd seen this coming so started podcasting in May of 2005 and kept going until August of 2007. Unfortunately was never 'discovered' by national broadcasters, but made a delightfully large number of connections with people all over the world because of these shows. Click here to view the archive of my podcast posts.