Are we "done" with rich Internet applications?

Summary:This week I've been putting together slides and preparing for my talk at Web 2.0 Expo New York City.

This week I've been putting together slides and preparing for my talk at Web 2.0 Expo New York City. I'm doing one titled "Making Sense of Rich Internet Applications" so it's more of a general talk covering everything from Adobe's stuff, to Microsoft Silverlight, to the mobile world, and now of course, Chrome.

Over the past couple of years we've gone from rich Internet applications being a loosely defined buzzword to a de facto standard of web development. It's almost easier to describe things that aren't RIAs than it is to describe things that are RIAs. Technologies like Flash and Silverlight get most association with rich Internet applications, but any technology that is pushing the boundaries of user experience - including Ajax - should be counted among the rich Internet application population. And Tim Anderson makes a good point that what we're really seeing is the next generation of the client.

I'm not saying that we've arrived in terms of "success", but I think across the web there is broad acceptance that a good client side experience is important. In a lot of ways this makes the RIA space even more exciting because there are a lot of new battles to be fought. How will HTML5 evolve and compete with technologies like Flash and Silverlight for animation, video, and richness? How can developer and designer tooling come together to make it easy for designers to craft a great experience for the client side? How do traditional server-side web developers come to the client? Or do they? One of the great enablers of RIAs has been a pretty clear separation between server and client. People are creating web services on the server side and freeing them up to be consumed by basically any client technology.

As we continue to move forward, from both a Google Chrome/Adobe AIR delivery perspective, as well as a HTML/Ajax/Flash/Silverlight runtime/technology perspective, developers end up winning. I don't know that client side programming has ever been more interesting or more powerful.

Topics: Servers


Ryan Stewart holds an economics degree from the University of Pennsylvania and is now a Rich Internet Application developer and industry analyst. After graduating from Penn, he spent two years developing applications for the Wharton School and pushing the idea of the web as a platform for learning. Ryan now lives in Seattle with his wife... Full Bio

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