June 24, 2004

The Web as application platform
The Location Field Is the New Command Line or why web applications are helping win the API war.

One of the best examples of this is UPS. The terribly designed Worldship software, with it's god-awful GUI, only runs on Windows. However the wonderfully designed UPS.com shipping section runs on anything that has a browser. Why tie yourself to specific platforms when you can be free of system restraints? Updating one web application beats applying updates to software installed on hundreds of desktops-- and everyone is always using the same version. With CSS your application is available to you in any form and on any device you choose. Web based applications empower your users to use the tool that they're most comfortable with-- and that's good design.


I stumbled upon this site while searching for information on WorldShip. I thought I might point out that with WorldShip you can actually import data from an outside source, which the website can't (or I just can't find it). This allows you to do something like ship 100 packages to different people already stored in some database (my company's client will be doing this), without entering them in separately.

Your point definitely still stands about the interface and about web-based solutions, but at this point I think that ups.com's shipping tools only perform a tiny subset of the tasks that WorldShip can do. That's part of the reason the interface is so ugly, they can't seem to figure out a way to make the app flexible and simple to use at the same time (they should probably at least have a "simple UI" vs. "full UI"). But they could probably do all the same things on the website if they wanted, and give it a better interface.

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