UserLand Frontier is a nearly 30 year old Mac database and scripting app. It only runs on Macs made before 2011. What does Frontier have to do with the Open Web and the democracy? Is there another vision of the web than Facebook and Twitter – how do we get there? What is the human side of software?
Long Time blogger and Mac developer, Brent Simmons, joins us to think about these questions and maybe even answer a few.
UserLand’s first product release of April 1989 was UserLand IPC, a developer tool for interprocess communication that was intended to evolve into a cross-platform RPC tool.
The Open Web movement asserts a special role for public, cooperative, and standard World Wide Web communications; it opposes private, exclusive, proprietary Web solutions.
For me the Open Web is about the ability to openly do three kinds things:
• publish content and applications on the web in open standards
• code and implement the web standards that that content/apps depend on
• access and use content / code / web-apps / implementations
The advantage of services like Facebook and Medium is that they provide a great experience for users over the messy Wild West of the open web. The disadvantage is their content algorithms control what is distributed, and publishers are limited to the services they choose to build. It’s a trade-off of ease of use and utility over freedom and creativity. Shouldn’t there be a way to have both?
If you read Dave Winer’s Rules for standards-makers, you’ll see that we did a decent job with some of the rules — the spec is written in plain English, for example — but a strict application of the rules would have meant not publishing at all, since “Fewer formats is better.”
Extensible Markup Language (XML) is a simple, very flexible text format derived from SGML (ISO 8879). Originally designed to meet the challenges of large-scale electronic publishing, XML is also playing an increasingly important role in the exchange of a wide variety of data on the Web and elsewhere.
Winer is noted for his contributions to outliners, scripting, content management, and web services, as well as blogging and podcasting.
App: The Human Story is an indie documentary coming soon. With indie filmmaking, you have to do a lot with a little and we need your help. Pre-order the film or merchandise now to keep the cameras rolling.
Brent has worked at UserLand Software and NewsGator and as an indie at his company Ranchero Software. These days he’s one-third of Q Branch, where he writes Vesper. He is also the co-host of this podcast.