I'm in Portland, Oregon this week for O'Reilly's OSCON. I'll be presenting a bit about Scooby's Web UI on Friday.
Over at the Sztywny Blog (wow, someone with a last name as hard-to-spell as mine), there's a nice post where the guy has e-mailed a bunch of questions to various well-known programmers -- and most of them actually are nice enough to answer.
Buried in the middle of this thing is an interesting statement from Steve Yegge, someone you might know from Stevey's Drunken Blog Rants.
I think web application programming is gradually going to become the most important client-side programming out there. I think it will mostly obsolete all other client-side toolkits: GTK, Java Swing/SWT, Qt, and of course all the platform-specific ones like Cocoa and Win32/MFC/etc.
He points out that the browser still has a way to go before it gets there, but then adds, "I've finally decided to switch all my own app development over to browser-based programming from now on." And a bit later, in the answer to another question, Steve also writes, "I do happen to have 3 months (part-time), and I'm spending it learning Dojo (http://dojotoolkit.org) and advanced AJAX and DHTML."
The whole blog post is a good read -- cool to see the different personalities in the responses to all the questions. But Steve's little bomb is probably the most interesting thing there.
I guess I should have mentioned it specifically in the post, since it doesn't occur to everyone thinking of browser-based apps -- but local storage is coming soon to the browser. Pretty soon, 'browser-based app' won't necessarily equal 'networked app.'
The other alternative is a browser-based UI talking to a backend written in Python, C, whatever -- running on the same machine or a machine on the local LAN. I don't see any issues with getting system resources with that type of app. The point is that the UI is much faster to develop and deploy. The Splunk search-engine for logfiles is a good example of this kind of app.