Web applications are simply Web sites with an accompanying configuration file. This file contains extra information necessary to install the Web app, which in some instances may make it available when there’s no network connection.
Google’s Web app specification makes a distinction between installable Web apps and hosted Web apps. The former rely on Google Chrome Extension APIs and only run in the Chrome browser. The latter are simply what we know today as Web sites and they can be accessed by typing the appropriate URL into one’s Web browser.
Mozilla’s scheme differentiates between published applications and bookmarked applications. The former rely on Open Web App APIs. The latter are just Web sites, what Google calls hosted apps.
These two approaches are not quite compatible, though efforts are being made to make them more so. Google Chrome Web apps are only available from the Chrome Web Store and can only be installed in the Chrome browser. Mozilla Open Web apps will be available from anyone who bothers to set up a Web store using Mozilla’s specifications and can be installed in any compatible browser.
And as we all know, Apple apps will only work on Apple devices.
This could be a shrewd move by Mozilla, and will please the advocates of open standards.
Firefox daddy Mozllla has released early code in its campaign to create a completely open alternative not only to Apple's app stores but also Google's fledging Chrome web store.
Mozilla's Labs has delivered the first developer release of its Web Application project. The goal is to serve up web-based apps for any device and any browser.
The first build includes a spec to describe a web application, a set of new browser APIs that includes the ability for a website to "install" itself in a browser, and documentation on how to build what Mozilla calls a free or paid "directory of applications".
In coming weeks, Mozilla plans to follow up with more browser- and device-friendly developments.
This will include "a deeply integrated 'in browser' experience" with find, install, launch use, and manage flow; synchronization of web apps to your mobile device; support for native browser controls, and integration with the operating system; and support for widgets and notifications.
Mozilla's project is a strike back at the notion that mobile and web apps should be based on APIs that are device or platform specific and served up from walled shops.
It's a philosophy lamented by web-daddy Tim Berners-Lee, who called out Facebook, LinkedIn, and Friendster for helping kill the ubiquitous web by using this model to lock-up data behind their walls.
Supposed bastion of web openness Google recently jumped on the train by rolling out a web app store that only works with its Chrome browser.
It's Apple, though, that has really caused problems, popularizing – among hardware companies, service providers, and business and consumer startups – the whole notion of an online store that serves up paid applications to a particular device.
The idea is to be able to things like launch a Web Application with a single click or share your contacts with Web Applications using any device or browser.
Jay Sullivan, Mozilla vice president of mobile, announcing the project in May 2010, singled out the Apple model as being opposed to what Mozilla has in mind. Developers want app ubiquity for their software, he said.
Read more at www.theregister.co.uk
"Web developers are expressing interest in an app store model for the Web that would enable them to get paid for their efforts without having to abandon Web development in exchange for proprietary silos, each with their own programming language and SDK, variable and sometimes opaque review processes, and limited reach," Sullivan said. ®