Friday, March 6, 2009

FOWA Dublin Notes: How to build desktop apps that help your web app succeed - by Matthew Ogle (

Most of's data comes from desktop applications tracks ("scrobbles") the songs that people are playing. The Scrobbles come from iTunes, WinAmp, Windows Media Player, the iPod, Zune, Spotify and even Emacs. So's desktop applications are one of the most important data sources for the service.

This adds up to about 8,000 Scrobbles per second or about 30 billion Scrobbles in total until now.

Desktop technology is moving to the browser

Desktop applications and and web-based applications converge. Desktop applications contribute data to web-based services and browsers gain offline functionality (Google Gears) or run as as desktop-like applications (Adobe AIR, Mozilla Prism).

Another example from is Boffin which shows a tag cloud for your music and allows you to play songs for the tags that you selected.

Some tips for your applications

  • Make it selfish: The users should use it for their own benefit.

  • Make it open: Provide APIs which can enlarge the audience by new applications.

  • Create on-ramps to your web experience. Data from desktop clients can be very valuable.

  • Befriend local desktop developers, trade notes. Desktop development knowledge gets more relevant as technologies converger.

  • Use your web smarts to make the desktop exciting again. The web doesn't end at the browser.


  1. Do you seriously think that web programming is very simple? I ran into a lot of problems when I decided to create an application. The desktop application company did it qualitatively and faster than I expected. Fantastic team!

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