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Like and not like a Browser



One can point an internet browser at a given URL and instantly that browser turns into a complex line-of-business application without installation. Point the same browser at another URL and it becomes a completely different application, again without thought of installation. The pervasiveness of browsers, the universality of the technologies by which they run, and their capacity to project the intent of distant servers make them a favorite host for every type of interactive software.


The client component of the Framework, a desktop application, acts much like a browser in that much that it does is controlled by the Framework-compliant site to which it is pointed, such that two URLs result in two unrelated and automatically deployed applications hosted successively by the same base assemblies running the same application window. Program code written for particular applications and unknown to the base Veriquant Framework assemblies is automatically downloaded (only when they do not already exist on the target computer or have changed) and activated by Veriquant Framework assemblies informed by data loaded upon connection to a Veriquant Framework-compliant site.


Though incorporating aspects of the browser paradigm, the core processes of the Framework deliberately avoid most of the technologies involving internet browsers, their servers and the means by which they communicate. Collectively these technologies are massively inefficient, energy-intensive, slow and complex.


Traditional browser-hosted applications are dependent moment-by-moment on distant servers to tell them how to render each pixel on their screens. They depend on constant and bulky program code—in addition to data—constantly streaming to the browser, code such as JavaScript, which arrives as human-readable text requiring parsing and interpretation into machine instructions. Protocols and content formats such as HTML, HTTP, XML, and SOAP are larded with bulky metadata and instructions, angle brackets and nesting notations designed as much for the human eye as for a computer processor.


Unlike smart clients, traditional browser applications must also contend with something called state, a kind of consciousness that the application loses with each new page it renders. Preserving state often means sending it all the way back to the server, which must store it in memory or even in a database for subsequent retrieval and retransmission back to the browser whenever the browser needs to remember what it knew moments before. It’s like standing in front of a person who introduces himself. You know you won’t remember the name for two seconds, so you email it to San Francisco, which then reminds you who is standing in front of you five seconds later. In the process you burden San Francisco , the internet infrastructure between here and there, and your own brain to handle the coming and going of the whole mess, which also happens to be complex to program.


Browser-hosted applications, moreover, are unable to utilize the true potential of local computer resources. What a thousand under-utilized client computers could otherwise contribute to data processing must instead be levied upon whole fleets of hot, power-hungry servers with expensive cold air blowing on them. It’s a command and control economy that fails to tap the talents of the workforce, wasting resources in the field and energy at headquarters and everywhere in between.


The client component of the Veriquant Framework gains a many-fold advantage on both server and client simply by not being a traditional browser, by retaining state, by speaking binary rather than English, by sending only data over the wire, not user interface pages laced with program script. Data processing unabashedly happens on the client computer, reducing the count and content of data exchanges, thus giving servers far less to do and therefore reducing their number.


In sum, Veriquant Framework reduces server burden and count, lessens environmental insult, slashes capital outlays and operational costs and delivers a far more powerful and responsive tool to the desktop than would otherwise be possible. Yet the Framework captures much of the power of the browser concept, where servers control content and behavior of a fixed and reusable client slate.