Yak shaving wows crowd at FOWA 2007

Real web development tools unearthed among hype

In a similar vein, Amazon CTO Werner Vogels walked through the growing number of Amazon developer properties, from S3 and EC2 to the Mechanical Turk. Demonstrating services like Gigavox's web-based podcasting tools, he posed the question: what if developers only had to compete with ideas, rather than with resources? As a rationale for a growing portfolio of SaaS tools, it's a philosophy that makes sense for Amazon. However, a question still remains for the rest of us – what will the cost of exit be?

Adobe's Mark Anders built a simple Flex application on stage, using the Flickr API to build a simple photo search tool, before introducing Apollo, the upcoming browserless Flash host. Two demos showed off its features, the standard Web 2.0 map mashup, and an Apollo-hosted UI for eBay. Anders also described the changes in Flash Player 9, and its new JIT compiler – and its open future as Mozilla's Tamarin.

Microsoft's Chris Wilson apologised for Internet Explorer 6 one more time for luck, and talked about the features in IE 7. With an audience of designers and developers, perhaps more could have been said about the rest of Microsoft's web technologies – though that may have stolen the thunder from Microsoft's own upcoming Web 2.0 conference, Mix 07.

Talks were generally light on technical detail, and most of the interesting demonstrations were on Microsoft's and Adobe's stands. Both were showing off their newest web technologies, Adobe with its Apollo Flash platform and Microsoft with its cross platform WPF/e running on a Macintosh – as well as giving away copies of its Expression web design tool.

Google gave away sweets, and Spinvox plied the world with tiny flashing lights. Sadly, the conference's Wi-Fi failed to materialise, and a single BT Openzone hotspot struggled to cope, though at least there was plenty of power for the myriad laptops in use.

The future of web applications is more than social media and Web 2.0. FOWA may have left you thinking that they were enough, but once you deflated the hype balloon and dodged the rush for VC funding, there was plenty of meat on the bones.

Mixed metaphors aside, FOWA 2007 was a useful event, with plenty of networking opportunities, and a set of speakers that managed to do more than deliver a marketing message. In this day and age that has to count as a win. ®

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