Writes David Coursey in ZdNet’s AnchorDesk: “I have a dream, that someday the individual applications in Office will go away and, instead of using Word on some documents and Excel on others, I’ll have a single app capable of doing whatever I need. Microsoft has this vision, too: They call it “Universal Canvas” and include it as part of .Net. Using XML, all types of data (word processing, spreadsheets, databases, slides) could reside in a single document format and be properly displayed to the user.”
I like to think of it as the Digital Dashboard. Instead of thinking of Word or Excel, think of the browser as the front-end, with the Office components as web services which can be called dynamically. This fits in well with InfoWorld writes:
Web Services have the capability to scale down far below the large business-to-business (B-to-B) systems being talked about today and could find their way to the desktop as the technology progresses, John Bobowicz, chief technical strategist at Sun Microsystems’s Sun One, said Thursday in Tokyo.
“Ultimately, things I get today as applications can almost become features once you can get to them as services,” he said, delivering a keynote speech at the Web Services Conference. “Everybody knows that Web services are going to play a big role in B-to-B and having large systems talk to large systems. But there is no reason why eventually we don’t see this same capability coming down to smaller types of applications.”
“If we were to apply these concepts to what we call a word processor, the different capabilities could act by themselves as Web services and word processing could become a virtual application,” he said. Thus the spell-checker, dictionary, thesaurus, publishing and editing functions that go together to make a word processor could all be offered as individual services.
“You may be able to decide whose dictionary you want to use without having to get different versions of the application. Eventually, word processing isn’t necessarily an application but it could be considered a feature itself,” he said.
Once such functions are available as services, it also becomes easier to build other applications because many of the same services can be re-used, said Bobowicz. Construction of an e-mail application, for example, doesn’t require much more than the addition of SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol) and IMAP (Internet Message Application Protocol) functions to many of the same pieces that go together to make a word processor.
“So, the message is, we tend to duplicate a lot of functionality and each time we need a slight change in function, we create a new application when in reality there is a lot of shared functionality we can leverage if we were to access these things as services,” he said.