Bruce Eckel on Java and Rich Internet Applications

Bruce Eckel, the author of Thinking in Java and a pretty influential figure in the Java community posted a long, eloquent assessment of the web, Java and Rich Internet Applications. To me it's a signal that RIAs continue to gain ground and Bruce has some great thoughts on the subject.

Bruce Eckel, the author of Thinking in Java and a pretty influential figure in the Java community posted a long, eloquent assessment of the web, Java and Rich Internet Applications. To me it's a signal that RIAs continue to gain ground and Bruce has some great thoughts on the subject.

He starts off by acknowledging what anyone who has tried to build real applications knows: the web is a mess. The building blocks (HTML, CSS and JavaScript) just weren't intended to do what they're doing now and while we've gotten a lot of mileage out of them, it's quickly becoming more and more difficult for developers of those technologies to keep pace. Not impossible, but extremely difficult.

He then talks about the history of Java and questions why it hasn't been successful in bringing about "the web revolution", it's a good read but it isn't until a couple of sections down when he hits on Flash:

So here’s my question. Allow for a moment the possibility that, after 10 years, Java is not going to take over the world of RIAs. Further allow that Ajax is just “how JavaScript was supposed to work in the first place,” but that the limitations imposed by browsers, HTML and CSS committees seem unlikely to let it expand beyond its current bounds. What are we going to use to build RIAs?

The only obvious solution is Flash. Flash has always been all about cross-platform multimedia experiences and user interfaces. People are very familiar and comfortable with Flash, and it is installed on almost all machines in the world. It’s trusted, stable and reliable.

That's a pretty resounding endorsement of Flash. He goes on to introduce Flex and even touches on Apollo and how it will enable these Flex applications. While a long article, it's full of excellent points and reasons why we need to embrace richer platforms to build the applications of the future. More and more people every day realize that Ajax and HTML are too limiting to build what they need. Flash continues to gain converts and as richer user interfaces become the norm, the platforms that empower developers to create them will become more prevalent. It's a great time to be following RIAs and the web.

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