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Only the paranoid survive

Regarding Google's Web Accelerator, Rob tells us we were warned. And Rael is summarizing the technology implications. Indeed people have been saying this for years.

It's clever though. On the one hand some people who think Web architecture matters will consider Google Web Accelerator as a kind of Web lint. On the other hand, Google will not be winning hearts and minds everywhere at the moment. It's hard to believe this accelerator was shipped without realizing the consequences on web applications, given how many of them use GET links for side effect actions, such as deletions and logging out. As well as a new found appreciation for Web architecture, including those who didn't know the Web had an architecture worth being consistent with until today, an outcome of the ensuing discussion might be that browser UAs are broken, that HTML forms are broken, and that as a consequence you should upgrade your apps to be Web architecture happy. In fact you should reconsider your entire client stack, because client limitations are driving a lot of the breakage that comes out of the box in server-sided frameworks. Workarounds to block the GWA are not a lasting solution. Which suggests more reliance on XMLHTTPRequest and/or HTML forms deprecation and/or classic browser deprecation. A well behaved universe of applications makes the Web much more efficient to process for Google, simultaneously lowering their enormous operating costs while having developers everywhere reconsider the makeup of client stacks. And we all get to say it's architecturally the Right Thing. If it's not an oversight, it's a really smart play, and an ambitious one.


May 7, 2005 12:29 AM

Comments

Ian Bicking
(May 7, 2005 03:27 AM #)

I always thought Google was smart, that they realized the web we have (warts and all) was their friend. But this isn't a friendly way to act. Maybe it's an oversight, maybe it's a small number of overzealous people in the organization who chose to ignore common sense. But I've personally told everyone in my company not to install the GWA, and asked them to pass this on to all our clients. If Google doesn't fix this quick we *will* disable access from the GWA on all our servers, no question about it, and will continue to actively discourage our clients from using this product. I don't care about theory, this is about *breaking working software*.

GWA is a stick without a carrot. People misuse links and GET because HTML forms are broken, on a number of different levels. This doesn't magically fix HTML forms. I would love if forms got fixed. I would love if POST links existed. If forms were fixed, five year later maybe aggressive prefetching could happen. If the W3C didn't give up on HTML five years ago, maybe it could have happened today. But the actual working web has been ignored by all these theorists. They can complain all they want, but they should have done something five years ago, or else they should shut up and deal with the web as it exists, flawed though it may be.

I'm not going to take blame for what the GWA does to web applications. If necessary, I'm going to treat it as a UA bug, and work around it. But I don't like when bugs are introduced, so since it's only a couple days old it's better to get this regression removed than try to deal with its implications. And when people offer constructive solutions that apply to real web applications, instead of empty criticisms, then I'm all ears.

Robert Sayre
(May 7, 2005 03:52 AM #)

Another way to avoid the GWA is to use SSL/TLS. If you go there, it makes WS-Security seem pretty silly, doesn't it?

Bill de hra
(May 7, 2005 09:27 AM #)

"I'm not going to take blame for what the GWA does to web applications [...] And when people offer constructive solutions that apply to real web applications, instead of empty criticisms, then I'm all ears."

A lot of people will be saying this. Google might be poor citizens here, but they do seem to be spec compliant ones. Saying that, down the line, the apps need to be fixed isn't an empty criticism.

"People misuse links and GET because HTML forms are broken, on a number of different levels. This doesn't magically fix HTML forms."


No disagreement here. I've run into this repeatedly and it's surprises me the W3C tag has not taken this on mismatch between HTTP and HTML yet.

Robert Sayre
(May 7, 2005 02:57 PM #)

"when people offer constructive solutions that apply to real web applications, instead of empty criticisms, then I'm all ears."

You seem to think this won't happen again. and again. and again. and again.

Mark
(May 7, 2005 04:55 PM #)

/me mumbles something about why specs matter...