Emilio Suarez's WebLog

Friday, May 30, 2008

RIA Technologies

"Rich Internet Applications" (RIA) are the current standard when in comes to developing a highly interactive web application and usually when people mention RIA, they imply Ajax. I named this post "RIA Technologies" because not everything that implements a rich user experience is based in Ajax technologies... but here I'll explore which technologies make more sense for the project that I am working on now, which requires the development of a browser-based monitoring application, which we want it to be extremely user-friendly, interactive and intuitive.

So I took a quick look at what are the current technologies leading the pack in the RIA world:
  • Dojo - a very powerful framework built
  • prototype - a low-level and very powerful Javascript foundation
  • scriptaculous - provides very slick animation, drag and drop and other features
  • Google Web Toolkit GWT - a Java-to-Javascript compiler that has the backing and support of Google
  • Google Gears - the offline engine for web applications that powers Google Reader and more
  • Flex and Air - Adobe's answer to RIA = Flash applications, with a powerful offline engine
  • OpenLaszlo - competitor to Flex which has a strong following
  • Yahoo User Interface YUI Library - set of utilities and controls for building UI widgets
  • JavaFX - Sun's and Java's response to Ajax: neither Javascript nor Flash...
  • Silverlight - Microsoft's RIA platform
  • and many more...
There are also a number of books, blogs and conferences that are talking Ajax and Web 2.0 which seems to be very popular lately.

In the last few years, the explosion on things related to Ajax, Web 2.0 and RIAs has been phenomenal... as AjaxWorld Magazine predicts... 2008 is the decision year for RIAs.

As with any other technology, you'll have to use the right tool for the job. Some applications will benefit from a Flash-based UI, where charts and animation are more important (marketing sites), where other applications that need more user interaction and data entry may benefit more from using an Ajax-based framework.

What will I end up using? that's the question... but Dojo is at the top of my list for a reason ;-)


  • An important point is to keep in mind how we'll deal with the different devices we are targeting nowadays. Is it still possible to build a modern portal for a media or publishing company without multimedia suppport?

    How good is Ajax performance on embedded systems and devices? Same is true for FlashLite unless Adobe comes out with SWF9 bytecode support for FlashLite.

    More and more consumer electronic products have integrated touch screens and wifi access. Where are the frameworks for building applications for these control panels. I don't see that Ajax provides and answer to many of those questions but I guess it depends on what kind of applications you try to build.

    By Anonymous Raju Bitter, at 3:36 PM  

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