Now, it looks as though the Universal Canvas may have finally arrived, but from a completely different company: Macromedia.
Yesterday Macromedia announced Central. It may not be the Forum 2000 vision of a Universal Canvas as a generic rendering layer for all applications, but it goes a long way in that direction.
Macromedia Central decouples Flash from the browser, and turns it into a generic XML and Web Service user interface layer. This is excellent news, and I'm looking forward to getting my hands on Central and seeing just how well it works. The screen shots on the Macromedia site are just what I need to show prospects how we can use web services to deliver next generation desktop applications via web services - and how we can do them in a loosely coupled fashion. (It's well worth reading Kevin Lynch's white paper [PDF])
I have to admit to be really pleased to see some of the ideas I mentioned in one of my first Application Development Advisor columns finally making their way out into the world.
(So, what are the odds on Microsoft buying Macromedia by the end of the year?)