Can rich Internet apps be web-friendly?

Can rich Internet apps be web-friendly?.

In my October 22 column, I
argued that Gmail's aggressive use of dynamic HTML qualifies it as a
kind of rich Internet application (RIA). As email correspondents and
bloggers pointed out, the technique has a fairly long history. Many
many wonder why it remains on the fringe. The reason, I think, is
partly a weakness common to all RIA technologies. Whether it's based
on DHTML, Java, Flash, .NET, or just a standard GUI, an RIA has a
client/server architecture. Unlike a Web application which manages
state information almost entirely on the server, though, an RIA
achieves a more balanced distribution of that information between
client and server. The benefits that flow from this arrangement can
include responsiveness, context preservation, and offline capability.
To achieve these benefits, though, we have to make some painful

RIAs are protocol-driven. A programmer
who masters an application's protocols can extend it or combine it
with other applications. But there are no integration hooks available
to the user. In a Web application, those hooks are simply URLs.
Consider what happens when you include a MapQuest URL in an email to
someone. A piece of state information — namely, the state of the
MapQuest viewer when displaying a given location — has been reduced
to a token that one person can hand to another. The same thing can
usefully apply to the state of a shopping cart, or an airline

The idea that an application wears its state information on its
sleeve, readily available for users to bookmark, modify, and trade, is
an underappreciated strength of Web-based software. As the RIA
bandwagon picks up steam, let's honor that idea and find a way to move
it forward. [Full story at]

[Jon's Radio]

Leave a comment