Coming Live from Google Chrome

Well, it’s live and I’ve downloaded it and am using it to write this blog entry. It’s Google Chrome. It’s a beta, but from what I’ve seen in the couple of minutes I’ve used it, it’s delivering as promised. Very fast and smooth, even typing here. Better than Firefox? Seems like it, but maybe it’s the chrome blinding me. And given the news volume about it, there’s a lot of people speculating about what Google is trying to accomplish with this thing.

At any rate, if it is about making the Web the OS as we’ve been trying to do for centuries now, what does it mean to C++ application developers? How do they make their applications relevant in this new world? Is it all over? Do we throw away our C++ compilers and pick up a book on PHP?

I strongly believe there will always be a role for a close to the silicon programming language like C++. Whether it’s for resource constrained devices like mobile platforms, or whether it’s for high performance apps like image processing or simulations, there’s still that need.

What may change is how these C++ apps communicate with the user. I can easily imagine a Web-based UI for C++ apps, similar to other Web 2.0 platforms. Who says the server side needs to be Java or PHP? It could easily be a C++ app. What we need, though, is a clean way to program such a UI. C++ widget programming has always been a challenge, but wait until you change the paradigm like this.

This is one reason I’m keeping an eye on the “Webification of SWT” part of the Eclipse e4 project. The lessons learned and the technology choices made there should be portable to a similar effort in C++. Maybe there’s already a C++ widget set out there that we could use to start, like wxWidgets, maybe something else, maybe something new. Either way, it’s time for C++ developers to start thinking about what this all means to them.