As 2007 closes its doors, Webware writers Rafe Needleman, Josh Lowensohn, and Caroline McCarthy look back on the best and the worst to come out of it...
The Facebook platform. Facebook's new open platform has proven to be a great way to give Facebook users more to do, while putting eyeballs on and dollars into developer's sites. While the usefulness of some of the apps is questionable (see the misses category below), Facebook has built a solid foundation for new social applications, something that did not exist previously.
Google Gears. This platform lets developers write Web apps that can work offline. It is in its infancy, but it's an important step in the right direction for road warriors and anyone who wants to use Web 2.0 apps while away from a live connection. So far, it's limited to just a handful of apps, including Google Reader, Zoho Writer, and Remember The Milk, but with a developing API and support from Google, we think you'll be seeing Gears as a standard part of new Web apps in 2008.
Adobe AIR. AIR lets Flash (and other) developers take their apps off the Web and put them onto people's desktops, and it's seen a lot of progress this year. From launching an alpha version in late March, AIR has been met with considerable interest from both developers and users. Many of the apps that have been created are slick and easy to install. AIR, like Google Gears, is a key technology in the development of "hybrid" apps--Web services that work for users whether they are connected or not. AIR's special power is that its apps work outside of a browser. AIR apps look and feel like real desktop programs.
Twitter. Twitter was one of the first microblogging platforms to get it right. In addition to its open API, which has encouraged the development of dozens of ways to read and post Twitter messages on a variety of platforms, Twitter got the social angle right. It's simple, but not too simple, and it's fun. Twitter's brief messages tend toward the forgettable, but that's the platform's blessing: it doesn't ask too much of its writers or its readers.
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