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Current trend is moving all application front-ends to the browser. This is of course due to convenience of not needing deployment and regulatory compliance where, for example, in medical industry installing software locally that views patient data introduces uncertainty of that data being potentially stored on the viewing device.  Finance workers, at least ones I talked to, do not seem to care as long as they get their job done.

However, from codebase maintainability perspective, JavaScript frameworks and tools are at the level of an immature 14 year old. Unlike long established toolkits (eg. JavaFX, WPF, .Net), which have sadly fallen out of fashion:

  1. JavaScript frameworks have new backward-compatibility breaking releases literally ever few months, thus forcing applications to be in perpetual state of rewriting.
  2. No reliable development tools (proper IDE support, UML reverse-engineering, static analysis), causing severe productivity decrease and many bugs in production, the kind easily detected back in the day.
  3. Browser engines abstractions cannot match performance of native OS.

The situation does not seem to be improving, only getting worse. My question is, how much have you experienced the necessity of making all applications browser based? If I tell you that stability of software is guaranteed more in a native application, will you be OK with extra deployment step, or are you willing to take the risk and expense as long as it is in the browser? I am not sure if I am in an echo-chamber where everyone believes desktop apps are dead.

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In my experience in the real world with real clients – no, the traditional installed desktop application is NOT dead.

The majority of professional offices that we support (think lawyers, dentists, accountants, etc) are still using traditionally installed software (in most cases a server-client architecture). There are a number of reasons for this, the most prevalent being that the software they’re using has been around for decades and simply hasn’t been transitioned into a cloud-based offering. As well, because of privacy regulations (specifically here in Canada), certain data just can’t be stored in a jurisdiction outside of the country. This complicates things for the software vendors if they want to start deploying cloud-based applications. So they simply don’t.

The same is true for other clients, like those in the HVAC / sheet metal manufacturing industries. The software they use to design systems and bid on projects utilizes very large engineering diagrams that are physically large in size (sometimes upwards of 1 GB+), which is just too large to put into the cloud or browser.

I definitely agree with you that the trend is moving a lot of applications into the browser. But there’s still a lot of traditionally installed software out there that doesn’t integrate with the browser. What will the future hold ? Not sure.