My new notion of web app

One of my side projects that I’ve been toying with, is a productivity app for bailiffs. And since I’m reading “Lean Customer Development” by Cindy Alvarez, a few days ago I went with my partner to interview a bailiff — a former college teammate of his.

I had a prototype prepared to show off. Literally in the first minute of me presenting the app, one thing that bubbled up really clear was his reticence to accept the idea of storing the information online. I asked him to let this aside for now because we can solve this with encryption, he showed us his current system, but at the end of conversation, he brought up this again:

— Guys, if you want this to work, you should really make this in a way that it’ll give me the option have it offline. This stuff is strictly regulated.

I had this deeply ingrained notion that offline apps are not practical/modern/good to build because of preconceived belief that it’s hard to get to the user’s desktop to update/fix it, and then I’m a Web developer, I wouldn’t enjoy going back to .NET or something to write desktop apps! I refused to even considered it.

Later that evening though I have remembered about this thing called “Chrome packaged apps”, which is basically a package — a directory — with HTML, CSS, and JS files, and a manifest file, which can be installed and run as a desktop app. Wow! This way I can have the both of both world: I can give users the privacy they need, and still write “Web” apps.

We’re far from having validated the project idea, but I’m already super-excited by the possibilities this “must be offline” constraint opened.