How hard is a simple web app?

On the continuing subject of “just how hard / easy is it to create a Web application, anyway?”, Aaron Swartz offers some thoughts, centered on the launch of his new Jottit service. Swartz seems to be on the other side of the fence from the Joel Spolsky essay that I wrote about yesterday. (Although I bet there’s a lot these two agree on, as well.)

There are two ways I look at it. One is: It took us five months to do that? And the other is: We did that in only five months?

When you look at what the site does, it seems pretty simple. It has few features, no complex algorithms, little gee-whiz gadgetry. It just takes your text and puts it on the Web. And considering how often I do that every day, it seems a bit odd that it took so long to create yet another way. And then I check the todo list.

As I’ve said, this is a site I wanted to get every little detail right on. And when you start sweating the small stuff, it’s frankly incredible just how much of it there is. Even our trivial site is made up of over two dozen different screens. Each one of those screens has to be designed to look and work just right on a wide variety of browsers, with a wide variety of text in them.

And that’s just making things look good — making them work right is much harder…

Read the whole thing, and then recall it the next time someone tells you how simple it is to throw up a Web 2.0 site. Of course, Swartz is proclaimedly trying to “get every little detail right.” I gather he is not a Big Ball of Mud kind of guy.
[tags]aaron swartz, jottit, web 2.0, software development, wep applications[/tags]

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