My previous article about Dropbox and MAMP was about hacking around ‘old-style’ thinking where MAMP stubbornly stores SQL databases in a single place, meaning that to work on multiple computers we have to use a third party tool to force our data into Dropbox.
With the announcement of Google Chromebooks, here is an approach that is the complete opposite. We don’t have to force local data on to the web because all our data lives on the web.
Personally I have been long advocating web apps and where possible I will work on the web instead of using a native app e.g. Why use Twitter App when you can just go to www.twitter.com and get the same experience? They have built in keyboard shortcuts and I can get notifications via a Chrome extension like Twitter Notifier. If I get a new computer I don’t have to worry about downloading a native app and setting up my preferences again, the web app is exactly as I left it.
There are many advantages in working exclusively on the web, the key ones being:
- I can work from anywhere, on any computer
- I never have to worry about setting up my computer and preferences again
- I never have to worry about backup
- I get a consistent experience across different OS’
For the every day worker I am pretty sure they would have no problem switching to Chrome OS - the only habit they would need to change is using Google Docs rather than MS Office. However, for the web developer / designer it’s much more difficult to use Chrome OS. Here are the problems we face…
- We can’t develop locally when working on a Content Management System like WordPress. No MAMP
- Whilst we could use Firebug or Web Inspector there are no really good substitutes for a program like CSSEdit or a text editor like TextMate or Sublime Text
- How do we transfer our changes to a web server? No FTP?
I would love to make the switch to working 100% in web apps; I believe that in 10 years from now it’s inevitable that everything will be a web app, but at there moment there are too many things preventing me from pulling the trigger. I suspect the three above issues would be major show-stoppers preventing 99% web designers from even considering Chrome OS. Some people would start arguing about the Adobe suite, but personally I design more in the browser, and Aviary looks like a reasonable substitute for me.
What about you? Can you suggest any work-arounds for these issues? And what would you miss if you had to switch to Chrome OS?