Thursday, October 11, 2007


Xcerion is a new Swedish startup which is working on a "internet operating system", something which runs entirely inside your webbrowser. The market-speak on their website gives the impression that it will revolutionize the computer industry and bring down Google and Microsoft and the same time. That is, of course, not true. They will be absorbed by either long before that happens.

I tried to get some hard details about what they're actually doing, but details are scarce, and any information I could get hold of is full of market-speak. Things like the following sounds like something Dilbert's boss would say:

"Given that everything is defined in XML creates enormous synergies and unleashes the innate power of XML,"

I'm not sure why they push XML so hard. XML is an underlying code/data representation, and will not cause any magic to happen by itself. XML may very well be the best choice of a representation, but it is not a silver bullet.

The fact that all applications are written in XML rings a big, fat, warning in my head. We've heard several claims over the last 20 years about new technologies which will render "traditional programming" obsolete, but we're still here writing code in C++, Java, Erlang, Ruby, Python, etc. What's the common denominator of the 20 most popular programming languages today? Their source code is written using text editors. Yes, some text-editors are most advanced than others, but we're still writing code. Practical, general purpose point-and-click programming won't be here for years.

XML is not designed to be human-editable.
This forces you to have top-notch graphical editors on top of everthing, and that is not an easy task. Many have tried and failed (the Eclipse plugin.xml editor is a good example; it is not a bad editor, but it doesn't scale very well for non-trivial XML).

But then again, if Xcerion can deliver on their promises and replace the traditional desktop OS with a system which is light-weight, fast, runs everywhere, and fun to program (sort of like on the old Amiga days), I'm all for it. But I can't help but feeling sceptical about the whole thing.

Xcerion, please prove me wrong.

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