Friday, December 16, 2005

Derby embedded into Firefox: another guise of browser embedded web server

There is an imminent possibility of being able to embed databases directly into the web browser environment as David Van Couvering has recently demonstrated using Apache Derby.

A short while ago I made a mad suggestion that future browsers should directly integrate web server software (like Apache or Tomcat). Although I didn't expect something like this could be happening so soon, integrating a database is in many ways as good as having integrated web server software. My initial thoughts were partly prompted by thinking about the direction that tools like Google Desktop are taking us. From a certain perspective, although not actually a browser, Konfabulator and Apple's Dashboard are similar JavaScript engine driven concepts.

There are almost endless possibilities for AJAX style applications written directly against local content (be that search engine style or local database storage).

I think it would be great if you could power up your web browser and immediately in a similar way to instant messenging you would have a web server that was online when you were, a true web presence. You could use it to share transient web site content and you'd no longer need to experience the slow end of ADSL, no more ftp or even WebDAV uploads! You could share social bookmarking, todo lists, wikis, blogs, forums, webcams etc. It would almost be like the P2P revolution all over again but for "web" content with much less of the controversy, think Napster or BitTorrent but for personal web content and without the same level of copyright issues provided people agreed to share content freely.

A web browser with some scripting capability, say JavaScript, Python or Perl could mean integration of local services such as format (e.g. XML/RSS/XHTML/CSS) validators and other online services such as accessibility checkers directly into the local browser server installation.

This would not really be a revolution as all these things are possible now, with a little effort, but a standard mechanism for doing so would mean that a wider audience could enjoy these freedoms.

I know people that scoff at the thought of contributing to a Wiki, helping other users on mailing lists, discussion forums or keeping a blog and I expect they would scoff at this suggestion too. I find my activities in these areas to be very enjoyable and rewarding. I would no more shun these than I would accept the stereotype that IT people are boring, I love IT, I feel very fortunate to be around at a time when I am able to enjoy open source software and ideas freely, it regularly excites me and I make no apologies for that.


Mark McLaren said...

Note: Comment imported. Original by Anonymous at 2006-01-10 17:00

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