A decade ago, the browser exploded many of our assumptions about
building and deploying software. We were shocked to discover that less
was more and that worse was better.
We've yet to fully absorb the lessons that the browser and the
Web can teach us. Now, as the on-demand trend heats up and the pendulum
swings back toward the GUI — in the form of RIAs (rich Internet
applications) — it's vital to understand the strengths and weaknesses
of Web-style software, and to assess its real potential.
The browser's Achilles' heel isn't merely its lack of support for
advanced graphics. What really hampers developers and hurts users is
the difficulty of managing complex interaction on the client. Dynamic
HTML can minimize server round-trips and page refreshes, and
applications such as Google's Gmail have shown this approach to be more
capable than you might think. But DHTML has its limits.
We clearly need more advanced widgetry to help us deal with a
range of data types and to guide us through sophisticated interaction
scenarios. In some cases, this machinery will be deployed using one or
another flavor of pure RIA. Hitting the sweet spot will require hybrid
applications that leverage the simplicity, familiarity, and
general-purpose utility of the browser, while using RIA technologies
selectively where they can deliver the most bang for the buck. [Full
story at InfoWorld.com]