RIAs: An overview
by Ron Lichty
I just saw a superb survey of Rich Internet Application technologies.
The venue was eBig's Web Development SIG (a recent name change from User Experience SIG).
The presenter was Luke Wroblewski, Lead UI designer for eBay, author of Site-Seeing: a Visual Approach to Web Usability, and principal of LukeW Interface Designs.
I was paying attention to the topic this month because its new chair, Cate Calson, at the suggestion of its first chair, John Armitage, had asked me if I'd talk. And this is the topic I'd have talked on. I wrote a detailed competitive analysis for Flex while I worked at Macromedia two years ago. I went to Schwab in '96 to manage development of the first rich internet application on Schwab.com in one of the only two available technologies at the time, Java. In my later Schwab role leading technology change across all of Schwab's business units, I was involved with three separate initiatives that looked for a better RIA technology, including a pilot with Curl. I'd given survey presentations of RIA technologies.
Luke did it better. Much better.
In his slides, he's got a great one early on that positions the major options graphically on a continuum, from Thin Clients, to Rich Internet Applications, to Rich Clients. And then a series of charts, one per solution, that lists advantages and disadvantages across the categories of User Experience, Deployment & Reach, Processing, Components & Customization, Back-End Integration, Unique Features, Future Proofing, and Staffing & Cost. In his presentation, he alternated between those charts and an example of each solution.
If you're interested in the architecture of this stuff, SDForum's Software Architecture and Modeling SIG, which I co-chair, will be focused on the topic of "Architectures for RIAs" at our June meeting June 22. Laszlo's chief architect Oliver Steele will lead off, based on his white paper, Serving Client-Side Applications. Isomorphic's chief architect Charles Kendrick will play off that, and compare and contrast AJAX solutions with Flash solutions. (Yes, I know, Laszlo can be re-targeted to an engine other than Flash. But until it is, it's a Flash-based solution.)
If, on the other hand, you're interested in the design side, Luke will be presenting the same night at Yahoo! He'll be talking at BayCHI's Interaction Design BOF Event on "Visual Communication Principles for Web Application Interface Design".
I realized the conflict tonight when I went to put his Yahoo! talk on my calendar.