One of the things I am way into in development is hybrid Desktop / HTML applications. You probably use them but don’t even know it. Some good examples include Apple’s Mail program, Outlook & Outlook Express, various RSS news readers like RSSBadit, NewsGator, and NetNewsWire, and media applications like Windows Media Player and Zune Marketplace plus a whole slew of smaller desktop applications. The mixture of HTML as a networked presentation layer combined with standard Desktop UI elements for application control and settings make for very compelling applications. These applications also tend to be quite popular in the industry. (I’ve developed three major hybrid apps for VeriSign and countless others prior, Daisy is also a hybrid.)
One of things that was seriously missing from Apple’s platform the last time I took a look was an embeddable browser component. Developers on Windows have had the ability to embed an HTML renderer since Visual Studio 6, and today it’s a simple drag and drop operation within 2005’s form builder. Apple on the other hand didn’t start work on something like this until they moved to Darwin, at which point they started in on Safari and branched KDE’s KHTML engine to create something called WebCore. A subsequent, more robust framework called WebKit was released with OSX 10.3. WebCore apparently became available to developers sometime in 2003.
[Of course I have to throw out the obligatory Microsoft fan boy fact – MS built the first hybrid app back in 97 with the creation of the first embeddable HTML rendering engine – the COM based web browser control used in Internet Explorer 4.0. Oddly enough the design of WebCore and WebKit seem strikingly similar to Microsoft’s MSHTML and Web Browser Control objects.]
Today I came across the WebKit blog which appears to be dedicated to all things WebKit, including embedding. Definitely worth a subscription. Seeing as how I now have an OSX box to play with, I might try my hand at whipping up a hybrid app on OSX, which should make for an interesting comparison between Microsoft and Apple developer technologies.