Favorite Web 2.0 Applications | November 4, 2005

With d.Construct only a week away, I’m wondering what your favourite web 2.0 applications are and why? What makes for a good web 2.0 app and what makes for a mediocre one?

Posted at November 4, 2005 9:30 AM


monk.e.boy said on November 4, 2005 9:49 AM

So, remind me again. Web 1.0 was HTML & JavaScript & CSS, Web 1.75b crashed on bootup. When I completed Web 1.9 the end of game bad boss guy was almost impossible to kill without the wand of reackoning.

Web 2.0 has ajax? XML and HTML and the blink tag? Does it multiplayer? Does it run on Linux? Is this version going to run on my toaster, or do I need to wait for the Firefox team to strip it down to the core components?


Andy Budd said on November 4, 2005 9:52 AM


Niklas Steffen said on November 4, 2005 10:34 AM

I think i’ll have to go with the usual suspects. Flickr , Basecamp and the like. I’m also quite fond of Remember The Milk.

trovster said on November 4, 2005 10:35 AM

Quality. Well said monk.e.boy!

Good “web-apps” (that I have used) are Flickr and I quite like the interface/usefulness of Listal.

I think what makes a good “Web2.0 Application” is something which has a community spirit. Cross-posting of comments, a personal touch, tags and a touch of AJAX to move things along smoothly. Also, the ability to export your data (usually in XML/RSS) into other applications (or your personal site) is a must for successful applications. Easy to use and good design is also a must, without this it’s difficult to build up point one and two.

Jason Kitcat said on November 4, 2005 10:45 AM

I’d have to say my most used Web 2.0 app is Basecamp

Most underwhelming is probably BlinkSale which looks very nice (and different to the usual) but just doesn’t do anything I’d want it to. I really wanted to like it.

Google Maps should get the ‘Pioneer’ award for proving to us all that a serious app could use Web 2.0 stuff

Also I think iTunes is an undersung hero of Web 2.0 - they do a lot of neat webby stuff in there.

graste said on November 4, 2005 10:49 AM

+1 for multiplayer! :D

I like apps that make discreet use of javascript and it’s possibilities.

Besides the “standard” hyped apps I like small projects like http://roundcube.net/ or http://getvanilla.com/ that try to use javascript to improve the whole user experience without doing everything using ajax things.

Drew McLellan said on November 4, 2005 11:31 AM

Is Basecamp Web 2.0? I’d say not.

Does it improve the more people use it? No.
Do you own your data? No. (very limited export)
Does it have an API for remixing? No.

I like Basecamp (and use it for various things). It’s very good. But I don’t think it’s Web 2.0. It’s all just a little be too closed for that. Not that that’s wrong at all.

Gerard McGarry said on November 4, 2005 12:09 PM

I suppose I’m just loving things like del.icio.us and recently rediscovered the joy of Flickr.

Been playing with Backpack, and I’m too miserable to pay for Basecamp! Although, I really must play with some of the other ‘toys’ mentioned above!

In response to Drew: I find it hard classifying Web 2.0 apps. Is there a definitive description? Maybe we should get groovy stickers to put on Web 2.0 apps to identify them!

Drew McLellan said on November 4, 2005 12:21 PM

Gerard - of course you can’t classify an app as Web 2.0 solely on the basis of a set of features - but often those features are symptomatic of an ethos. Ethos is very much at the heart of Web 2.0.

Again, don’t take this as a criticism of Basecamp because it’s really not, but it doesn’t really have a Web 2.0 ethos. One of the key elements of Web 2.0 is ownership of data, if you put something in the app should give it back whenever you want it. With Basecamp you put data in and they don’t give it back. In Web 2.0 terms, they’ve betrayed the user’s trust.

To take a related example, if I wanted to build an app that appeals to a similar audience as Basecamp, I may wish to give my users the option to import their users over from Basecamp, to save them rekeying all that data again. Basecamp keeps all that close to its chest - there’s no programatic way to get that data out. The user loses out, ultimately.

So I don’t think Basecamp is a Web 2.0 app, but I don’t think they’re trying to be, and I’d hesitate to say it’s a shortcoming. At the end of the day, Basecamp is good software. But if the conversation is Web 2.0, I don’t think it’s appropriate to include Basecamp.

AkaXakA said on November 4, 2005 12:25 PM

Depends if you’re using the Web 2.0 definition from 4 (or was it three) years ago or not.

Hayo Bethlehem said on November 4, 2005 12:42 PM

Surely there must be some new buzzword for Web 2.0 by now.

Gerard McGarry said on November 4, 2005 12:56 PM

Drew: Thanks for your response. That definately makes sense.

Anyway, I’ve spent most of my morning playing with Remember The Milk…

Michael said on November 4, 2005 1:28 PM

I like the idea of Jobazaar very much. It let’s you find someone doing things for you very easily. But obviously it suffers from having not enough participants…
Nonetheless it makes good use of Web 2.0 technologies like RSS, tags, etc.

Shaun Inman said on November 4, 2005 1:29 PM

Is it just me or is all this ill-placed angst over what words we’re using to describe something making it extremely difficult to have a conversation about anything these days?

PayPal is way behind the curve when it comes to its UI but it does have an API and let me export sales reports and my money to my bank account. I’m also a huge fan of FcKr.

Gerard McGarry said on November 4, 2005 2:04 PM

Shaun: I don’t understand the buzzword issues at the moment either, but then I’ve been watching the industry closely.

I wonder if perhaps people who aren’t involved in developing web apps feel isolated or sidelined by obscure phrases and acronyms appearing? I mean, I’ve only recently seen reference to Web 2.0 in mainstream publications - before that it was only within the design/tech community.

Matthew Pennell said on November 4, 2005 2:33 PM

“Your comment was denied for questionable content”, apparently - what the hell’s up with that?

Matthew Pennell said on November 4, 2005 2:34 PM

live.com, NetVibes and Google Personal, by the way. Banned keywords?

Drew McLellan said on November 4, 2005 2:36 PM

‘NetVibes’ sounds like an adult toy shop. ahem.

Cody Lindley said on November 4, 2005 2:40 PM

I’m sure you wanted a list, and not my opinion on the semantics of web 2.0. So here ya go. This list consists of web applications as well as tools for building them.

These list below not out yet, but very promising.

John Oxton said on November 4, 2005 3:09 PM

Mine are probably a little obvious but here we go anyway:

I like all of the above because they are actually very useful in my day to day life.

Peter Franceschi said on November 4, 2005 4:05 PM

I’m beginning to think that maybe the most popular web apps are falling the way of the most popular designers. Many people, including myself, tend to follow the same dozen established, recognized designers - Shea, Zeldman, Bowman, Moll, Hicks, Inman, (yes Andy you’re there too ;p) etc. Similarly, I think the same people that follow those designers follow the apps they promote as well. And in an environment where the predominant influence comes from the same dozen people, you’re going to see a ton of overlap.

That said, I do my best to keep on top of the industry and follow the trends, but I also do my best to think independantly. I have experience with a lot of the more popular apps such as Flickr and Basecamp, but I’m also a huge fan of apps like Campaign Monitor, Listal, and the lesser knowns like Zen Photo, and Meetup. Now whether that’s web 2.0 I’ll leave up to you guys to duke it out, regardless, they’re all great pieces of software.

Zach said on November 4, 2005 4:18 PM

Oh Andy, please no more Web 2.0 talk.

But .. Flickr, through and through.

Nathan Smith said on November 4, 2005 4:23 PM

Gmail, bar none. While some might not consider it a web app, consider how it intuitively loads pages in the background, so that there’s no re-fetching of the info when you click Inbox after doing a search, for example. Everyday I use Gmail,a nd wonder to myself how I stuck it out all those years with Hotmail.

Basecamp is also nice, using it with a few of my clients.

Simon Cox said on November 4, 2005 4:34 PM

Web 2.0 is sooo old hat,
Web 3.0 is where it’s at,
It’s so book,
It hurts to look,
(Do I sound like a bit of a tw*t)

Barry Bloye said on November 4, 2005 4:44 PM

Totally agree, Nathan. I’m a GMail (sorry, ‘Google Mail’) convert from Hotmail, and it’s just so much faster and more intuitive. Tags instead of folders (very Web 2.0!). And threaded messages… mmmm!

Flickr is another favourite that’s also very easy to use. Again, there’s the ‘folksonomy’ tagging system, the social aspect of groups and sharing your photos, and there are some clever uses of the API out there.

David said on November 4, 2005 5:06 PM

Definitely Remember The Milk - it’s the coolest of all Web2.0 Apps I’ve used so far. It’s everything Ta-Da Lists wants to be, and way more. I’m absolutely stunned.

Ryan said on November 4, 2005 5:10 PM

I like NetworthIQ myself :-)

Other than that Del.icio.us and GMail are tops on my list.

Matt Sephton said on November 4, 2005 5:59 PM

Mine would have to be Apple’s Dashboard.

Considering my own Ceefax Viewer widget, I could be slightly biased. Some seriously good Web 2.0 things going on there apart from my work.

Peter Mahnke said on November 4, 2005 6:52 PM

Not to take a political stance, the best Web 2.0 apps are the ones that take advantage of the functionality in a useful way, not just show-pieces proving that someone is a smart developer.

The apps are better for Web 2.0 technology are either doing something very complicated with lots of server connections OR dealing with lot of data that could be made smaller/faster by only moving over the data that’s needed.

Ben said on November 4, 2005 7:31 PM

I always thought Web2.0 just meant all the Flasholes finally died off. Any-hoooo, Basecamp gets my vote.

Allan Rojas said on November 4, 2005 10:09 PM

how about wiki ? Isn’t it Web 2.0 ?

Anyway, my vote on Gmail, the Google Personalized Home, Digg and del.icio.us


Nate Steiner said on November 4, 2005 11:19 PM

How about Say-So, which we just launched literally a few minutes ago. We plan to update it often, and it has a weird feature.. does that qualify for web 2.0?

Ryan Oswald said on November 5, 2005 6:22 AM

Web 2.0 is not impressive at all. I mean the whole thing is based on the fact that some minor components on a web page are refreshed automatically. Big woop!!! These are things that should happen anyways. Now there is a big misconception about what AJAX really is… its not web 2.0 and its not a technology… its a way to use exsisting technology and right now about the most impressive thing I have seen from AJAX is some automatic form updates.

I’m not impressed with any application if it can’t perform a real and practical function. I don’t think google maps is practical at all. Yea sure its neat to play around with for a couple minutes, but that’s about all the function I’ve gotten out of it. The interface is horrible its cluttered and for god sakes get rid of the default blue link type, GROSS! Its so ugly I won’t use it for anything. Flickr is nice, but even its interface is ugly… solid white! come on, put a little variety and legibility into your design. Like everything else, these apps start out good because they are simple. Then they try to cram as many features as possible into the interface. DON’T MAKE ME THINK!

Andy Budd said on November 5, 2005 10:54 AM

Hi Ryan,

Personally I think Google maps is fantastically functional. Before it came along I’d use services like Multimap to plan how to get a client from the nearest tube station. The problem was, it was almost impossible to get a map that had both the destination and the tube stop on it. You’d have to click an arrow on the page which would move a whole section of the map. You may move the tube stop onto the map, but you’d invariably move the destination off.

With Google maps (as well as MSN and Yahoo maps now) you can simply drag the map around, lining it up exactly how you need it so both start and end points are visible. Personally I’d say that was a killer feature and the main reason why I stopped using Multimap.

Also I’m little confused that you think the Google maps interface is cluttered and difficult to use. It only has a couple of buttons, all of which seem fairly obvious to me. When I first started playing with it, it didn’t make me thing at all. Quite the opposite, I thought the interface was very simple and intuitive.

You may be right that websites should be able to refresh data without refreshing the whole page anyway. However they generally didn’t (not without frames, applets, flash etc). Now they do, so surely that’s a good thing and something to be excited about?

Nobody said it was a new technology, but it is being used new and exciting ways. The steam engine was invented in ancient Greece, so was in no way “new” in the 18th century. However the use off the steam engine to power machinery was the cause of the industrial revolution. Something doesn’t have to be “new” to have a huge impact.

If you want functionality and usefulness, I think writely is a great example. A full featured word processor that allows group collaboration and the ability to edit the same document on a variety of different machines! How cool is that. What’s more it’s completely free!

Or how about Meebo, an online IM client that lets you keep in-touch with your buddies wherever you are. Great for using on the road at Internet cafe’s, in environments where you can’t install IM software or when you are behind a corporate firewall.

The list goes on, so if you cant see the real and practical benefits, maybe you’re not trying hard enough?

Stuart Colville said on November 5, 2005 6:18 PM

I find it interesting that although I’ve tried a lot of web applications everyone else is mentioning; only Gmail and Flickr have become tools I use regularly.

Although there are some apps with good features, the mark of a really good web-app is something you come back to time and time again.

trovster said on November 6, 2005 4:46 PM

Nice answer Andy. People are disliking applications simply because they use the name “Web2.0”. I think that’s just completely idiotic. There are great applications out there, good interfaces and amazing features.

Oh no, Flickr uses white, must make it a terrible website/application, why would anyone use it? And, although I have only really used Google maps for novelty value, it’s now my first choice when looking up directions. Quick and easy to use. Dynamically refreshing is so much more intuitive to find places than clicking arrows and waiting.

Alex Farran said on November 6, 2005 8:32 PM

Don’t know about web 2.0, but there are a few internet applications I wouldn’t want to be without:
Usenet / mailing lists

goodwitch said on November 6, 2005 9:17 PM

Andy, you’ve gotten great answer to your question, so I’ll just add a few new thoughts.

An info-app I’m using to explain Web 2.0 to the unitiated is Netflix. Yum! (of course I also use google earth, flickr, delicious and wikipedia, but then so does everyone else).

Now, “what makes for a great Web 2.0 app?” you ask…I think:

raimundo said on November 7, 2005 1:18 PM

Span blocker http://www.cloudmark.com/ is quite good

Alex Farran said on November 7, 2005 2:03 PM

goodwitch - There’s no UK netflix, so I’ve not used it. After a quick browse it looks like a web front end to a DVD catalogue database. What makes it special?

Matt Sephton said on November 8, 2005 3:30 PM

Andy, did you know Google maps was “heavily inspired” by maps.search.ch?



Zach said on November 11, 2005 10:47 AM

I am eating my words after your speech Andy.

Anthony said on November 16, 2005 12:31 AM

Flickr and Inform.com.

Professional web design Specialist said on November 16, 2005 7:48 AM

i’ll go with the new google features and flickr.

Ryan said on November 24, 2005 7:29 PM

Gootar.com - this (in my opinion) is one of the most creative use of web programming. One of the best resources I’ve found for guitar players and all muscians in general.

Jez Nicholson said on November 25, 2005 9:33 AM

Do you agree with the O’Reilly description of http://www.oreillynet.com/pub/a/oreilly/tim/news/2005/09/30/what-is-web-20.html ? Web 2.0 is more the jump from publishing a magazine online and creating a space for people to interact and build a new entity, than a technology thing.

My favourite of the moment is http://www.43things.com/ Like all potentially great apps I don’t quite know what it is for yet, but I like it because the content is built by the users and as it continues to build new ideas are forming.

The whole personal networking thang is maybe another example, but I got tired of too many Napoleans on Ecademy, and LinkedIn has tightened up it’s contact rules and started charging.

PaulPr1 said on January 5, 2006 9:17 PM

Found out about e-Ballot.net today. You can create free ballots and invite friends to place their bids.