Stephen O’Grady of Redmonk has written this good post Too Rich For My Taste: The RIA Q&A questioning the value of Rich Internet Applications to end users. Some of the observations are very accurate. Two of them related to Internet Applications are very important:
1. We spend more time using browser based applications than thick-client desktop applications (exceptions are developers). Browsers are universal client program people are comfortable using.
2. End users are happy using current web interfaces. In the recent years AJAX has made it even better. There is no real need for making application interfaces richer. Don’t fix what is not broken.
The big vendors of RIA, Adobe (Apollo), Microsoft (Siliverlight) and Sun (JavaFX) seem to be making excessive emphasis on richness of interface and pushing their technologies forgetting the above crucial points. The richness of interface is highlighted so much in the demos and talked so much about in their marketing that RIA can be interpreted as “Rich Interface Applications”.
Is there a reason why richness of interface is played up, although RIAs are meant to provide richness in 3 dimensions?
I think the 3 big vendors have a problem with “Internet Applications” part of RIA definition. Internet Applications imply using the browser as the client. Adobe Apollo and Sun’s JavaFX do not run inside the browser, so point #1 above is not in favor of them. If it is not about writing super cool UI Silverlight has no place, so point #2 is not in favor of Microsoft Silverlight.
Does this mean RIA has no role? Should you be a skeptic the way Stephen is?
I think RIA has a big role to play connecting the web to the user. RIA provides a way for web to interact with the user in more ways than current request-response model.
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