Web Applications for Machines?

By Blane Warrene
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Embedded systems have been around for quite a while. More recently, Linux has found to be friendly to the construction and deployment of embedded systems due to flexible licensing, low cost of entry and of course system stability.

In a roundabout way, a recent GNU GPL court victory points to what ultimately may become a mainstream market for web developers in coming years – web applications for an audience ‘other’ than the usual Internet/extranet/intranet user base.

This is an interesting sector to consider, though it is not completely new. For some time object-oriented software development techniques and capability has been bleeding into the web sphere through various Internet-ready languages. Now as legal precedent furthers the vetting and validation of open source software for critical solutions – what may have been a slim vertical development opportunity for Internet professional will open further.

More and more ‘devices’ are powered with technology logic, as in this story dealing with automobiles and the logic controlling all aspects fo their operation. Something needs to read that behavior and a technician needs a capable interface to interact with it.

We have all joked about our refrigerator notifying us when milk is low. now we just about have that. Take note that it very well may be web professionals and their ability to crank out scalable systems with small footprints that are conscious of system resources may fare best in these environments.

Embedded Linux systems that technicians and other end users operate on may be most functional with a browser based application in kiosk mode (I am sure this has already been determined in many cases).

Leveraging the knowledge of network connectivity and cross platform nature of web apps (esecially open source solutions), web veterans may find new avenues to market their wares – and be received with more welcome than expected.

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  • Interestingly enough we just developed a digital signage system using Linux as our base for the node/kiosk machines with allot of success. Not quite at the point of monitoring an embed system but a big step in that direction. When you consider that a system like this may have hundreds of node points, the zero license cost of Linux really comes into its own. If you compare having a windows license for each machine this could potentially costing you thousands or more.

    There is one down side, linux is in some ways is very stable but when dealing with X-server applications maybe not as stable as some would like to think. Still though once you get over the initial configuration and you have your perfect node machine your well on your way. Configuring Linux to very unique scenarios can be quite time consuming and the lack of official support can be frustrating.

    As you said it will be interesting to see if someone could be in work some day and log on to a personal website to see the stock in there fridge.

    Looks like we need more milk, I

  • Berislav Lopac

    Well, it’s all about distributed computing, or the (in)famous Web services. Web pages are not only for human eyes anymore, they become more and more oriented to serving data to other software, especially with home networks and broadband Internet access becoming more and more widespread.