Rich Internet Apps: Momentum is Building

Was talking to a smart friend today about spaces or places for him to focus on with respect to the next big thing in software and the acceleration in value creation it can bring to people, industries and inefficient processes. My view? Rich Internet Applications (RIA’s).

Momentum is building for these desktop look-n-feel, in-and-out-of-a-Web-browser applications. When Ajax hit the scene with fast in-browser applications like Gmail, Zimbra and others, it instantly gave Web application developers an ability to visualize how robust a Web application could be. Just like Roger Bannister breaking the 4 minute mile, 46 days later that barrier was broken again and then it was done again-n-again-n-again.

There’s quite a bit happening driving momentum and providing the enabling tools and approaches that are already delivering amazing application functionality:

  • Working on other approaches (rendering in Flash or DHTML) was Laszlo Systems (check out their site to see how far they’ve come with their value proposition and look at examples of RIA’s built with their approach)
  • Laszlo tossed their frameworks into open source with OpenLaszlo with IBM’s support as well as the Eclipse foundation
  • Adobe bought Macromedia to do many things…including delivering enabling tools and frameworks for development of RIA’s
  • Microsoft has their Expression suite coming that will also deliver ‘traditional’ and RIA Web applications.
  • I’ve seen some cool stuff at IBM with encapsulated Ajaxian code chunks to quickly build RIA’s that will see the light of day soon.

But the proof in a market demand becoming a reality is when the trade shows hit.  If you don’t believe that RIA’s are becoming a market, check out Ajaxworld.

I’ve talked to some naysayers about “Ajax isn’t scalable” and “I can only imagine RIA’s — all with different UI’s and menu structures — all over my desktop” and “Enterprise and other data systems are simply too complex to deliver actual service oriented architectures.” It’s funny….but this reminds me of the beginnings of the desktop publishing (DTP) boom.

DTP wasn’t scalable. Printing and publishing was for experts and the processes were too complex. Typography and page layout couldn’t go mainstream. I submit that the plumbing, internet platform, approaches and workflows will quickly be figured out. There is too much in the way of opportunity to put a new “face of functionality” on all the tired, old applications as well as kickstarting completely new ones that access disparate data systems over the internet (i.e., mashups).

This statement may be a bit bold, but I think we’re entering one of the most exciting times in software that will happen in our lifetime.

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1 Comment

  1. MikeFM on July 30, 2007 at 1:53 pm

    If only they’d add decent audio, video, and font support to HTML/CSS. Then we could have really rich apps without needing Flash, Java, etc. Already w/ a very small bit of inserted Flash for sound management I can write pretty decent arcade-style games in just HTML/CSS/JS.



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