In the past couple of months, we've gotten ever closer to high quality Rich Internet Application solutions. As the RIA becomes more and more of a reality, it's important to distinguish them from traditional web applications and figure out what benefits they provide. This is my list of 10 reasons you should be embracing the RIA whether you're working on the next great application from your garage or trying to convince your boss at a Fortune 500 company that RIAs are the way to go. There's something here for everyone.
1. Take advantage of the ubiquity of the internet.
The web is everywhere, it's perhaps the only truly global phenomenon that we have today. Any web application can take advantage of this, but by building RIAs you can tap into the greater sphere of the internet. Bring cell-phone-based applications to consumers in Japan or children in Kenya. RIAs take you beyond the web browser and into a range of devices and mediums.
2. Make the most out of the building blocks of the web.
RSS and micro formats are quickly becoming the building blocks of the web. They provide the invaluable content in easy to consume bits which means greater accessibility to content everywhere. RIAs are in a unique position to take this content and give users a great deal of control over it. RIAs free the building blocks from the confines of the web browser meaning much more potential for how we view and interact with content
3. Get in touch with your inner designer.
RIAs trash the old model of how web applications should look and give developers a powerful and robust way to build their applications. Developers have control over every aspect of the experience and design, meaning they can try anything - including things that aren't possible with traditional web applications. This is going to make for some very ugly interfaces, but it's also going to make for some absolutely mind-blowing interfaces too.
4. Connect your world.
By taking full advantage of the Internet, RIAs can be used to connect a living room or a community. You can make sure your content is with you on your cell phone or Xbox. You can share that content with your friend who has a PSP. RIAs will also allow collaboration on a new scale. RIAs have the potential to bring people from all over the world together and letting them interact with their content together. People make the internet, and RIAs can make it seem like those people are next to each other.
5. Promote your brand.
Whether you get in touch with your inner designer or you hire a rock star to promote your brand, RIAs give you total control over how your brand reaches the world. You can customize applications in such a way that immerses the user in your world and gets them excited about your brand. By not trapping users in the web browser, you can suspend their disbelief so that they are viewing and interacting with your content on your terms.
6. Harness today's multimedia.
Multimedia on the web used to be a joke, but now it's everywhere and getting better every day. The web browser wasn't built to handle multimedia and requires plug-ins and add-ons to view content today. RIAs can be built to incorporate multimedia so that it doesn't appear nailed on. With RIAs the multimedia content becomes part of the experience instead of an extra feature.
7. Hook your customers.
Because you have control over exactly what the user experiences, you can use that experience to hook them on your products. Incorporate multimedia, devices and the web so that they are seeing your product in a way they can't see your competitors. By making sure you can go with them wherever they are, you can hook them when competitors can't.
8. Streamline development time.
The holy grail of RIAs is to write one set of code and have that code run on any device or computer in the world. As a development shop, you can have one code base and deploy that anywhere your users go. If you're a business then you can make sure your executives have your application whether they are on a plane with their PDAs or at their desk on their laptops.
9. Revolutionize the enterprise.
RIAs take the idea of software as a service and revolutionize it. You can provide a desktop-type-interface over the web and on any computer or device. It provides a single point for upgrades or patches meaning your IT staff won't have to run around touching every computer in your business. At the same time, the users aren't giving up any control over their applications. RIAs behave exactly like desktop applications and users will enjoy the same level of control. Unlike a typical remote desktop scenario, the RIA can move with your users to their cell phones or PDAs so they have the content anywhere they go.
10. Show what Web 2.0 can be.
Web 2.0 gets a lot of bad press as a buzzword, but it has still given average users a new way of categorizing and interacting with their content. It has also given them a way to communicate with the world in the form of podcasts, blogs or vlogs. RIAs take all of the progress we've made on the web and make it easy to use. Users who are used to the way desktop applications behave will be a home in an RIA world and as a result will be more likely to participate in the global conversation. RIAs leverage the APIs and standards of Web 2.0 into great experiences that everyone can relate to.