by C.G. Lynch

How Do You Manage the Explosion of Web Apps in Your Browser?

May 05, 20082 mins
Enterprise Applications

As more businesses (and their employees) access software over the Web, the amount of tabs we have open throughout the day on our Web browsers continues to increase. While RSS feed readers, bookmarking services, and portals like iGoogle pages are helpful, we all need something better or we’ll become overwhelmed.

Go around the office and ask people how many Web applications and websites they have open. 10 tabs? 20 tabs maybe? Here’s what’s doing on my Firefox browser as I post this to our advice and opinion section:

Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Reader (where, by the way, I subscribe to more media feeds than I can count),, CIO editorial’s chat room, our content management system (CMS) to post stories to, a blogging system (which I’m in right now to write this post), Facebook, and Twitter.

While I need all of these tools to do my job effectively, it can be a bit overwhelming and stifling on my productivity toggling between them (keyboard shortcuts only go so far).

Some big companies in the consumer space, such as Yahoo and Google, have been tackling this problem by delivering media and information over widgets that users pick themselves and flow to a user’s portal (My Yahoo or iGoogle).

The problem? Businesses haven’t gotten too heavily involved in building widgets to run on top of these portals, most likely because they don’t want to run their corporate data through what they view as an insecure environment (mainly, Google and Yahoo’s servers).

Aiming at the more cautious business technology customers, enterprise 2.0 vendors have begun building iGoogles for business. Socialtext, a company that makes enterprise-grade wikis, has started down that road. They have made it possible to have both corporate widgets and more consumer-based ones (such as news headlines, YouTube, etc.) fed into the same place.

A third approach has been pursued by a company called Worklight. The vendor takes corporate data, and pushes it to iGoogle or Facebook pages. By hosting the data on a third-party server, it doesn’t pass through the server of the consumer application.

How do you manage this explosion of Web applications and media we’re all currently experiencing? Are the vendors falling short of really managing this problem? And what would be your ideal interface when you fire up your computer/browser every morning?