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A Webkit-based Platform?

Last week's news of Apple's adoption of the SproutCore Javascript framework was met with a shrug of the shoulders by some web developers. Indeed, SproutCore itself is just the packaging together of existing web technologies into a developer-friendly package. No brand new capabilites were introduced to what existing web applications are currently able to do. That being said, a technical interview (podcast) with SproutCore's creator provides some interesting insight behind its development. Specifically, special efforts have been made to provide an efficient development environment as well as efforts to decouple the application from the server itself. In essense, the final web application runs in your browser alone and can be entirely independent of the web servers.

By itself, this is just an interesting footnote for end users, however, a few other tidbits make for some interesting future possibilties.

With the introduction of Safari 3.1, Apple introduced a few Safari-specific features. This included CSS Animation and downloadable fonts. We've also heard that Apple demonstrated even more advanced browser-based 3D animation capabilities at WWDC. At WWDC, these features were demoed in the context of the iPhone, allowing developers to create CoverFlow-like functionality and animation within mobile Safari itself.

Another relevant feature is the recent adoption of client-side storage which allows web-applications to store data locally. This means that web-applications could be independent of an internet connection.

Developers and users alike may cringe at the thought of these poorly-adopted web features, since only Safari and web-kit based browsers are capable of supporting many of these features at this time.

However, Apple's inclusion of "Save as Web Application" feature in Safari 4 could alter this reality. By bundling Webkit into a standalone executable, developers could theoretically release downloadable Webkit-based applications for use on Windows XP, Tiger and Leopard. To the end user, these would appear as standard applications, but the underlying technologies would be Webkit and Javascript.