The mulitouch future of RIAs

The mulitouch future of RIAs

Summary: I've been really enjoying Richard Monson-Haefel's blog on multi touch lately. Now that RIA technologies are able to do so much, it's become apparent that the mouse and keyboard are simply too limiting as input devices.

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TOPICS: Hardware
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I've been really enjoying Richard Monson-Haefel's blog on multi touch lately. Now that RIA technologies are able to do so much, it's become apparent that the mouse and keyboard are simply too limiting as input devices. The maddening number of iPhone clones that do "gestures" but not true multi touch continues to leave me underwhelmed at the space. But with the iPhone and larger devices like Microsoft Surface or multi touch startups like Intuilab show that there's a lot of innovation around these new interfaces and I think there is a very significant role for RIAs to play here.

We already know that Windows 7 will have multi touch support which means that anyone building WPF applications can incorporate multi touch functionality. Snow Leopard, Apple's newest operating system, supposedly will include it as well but what I want to see are the RIA plugins include it: Flash, Silverlight, JavaFX, etc - because I think that's where the exciting cases are.

Those plugins were built from the ground up to be rich in animation, multimedia, and experience - the perfect use case for multi touch. But I'm also very excited about what's starting to happen with real time communication and collaboration with things like WCF and Cocomo. The web seems to be ready for real-time to take off, so we're getting to the point where we have very rich data layers underneath extremely powerful user interface frameworks and technologies. The only piece that's missing is an input mechanism that can actually make some of these things less cumbersome to use.

As the UIs and the data become more complex, there's going to be a draw to move to better ways of actually interacting with the content. Multi touch technology gives us that, and as we've seen with the iPhone, people pick these applications up very, very quickly. That usability boost is critical if we want to start seeing widespread adoption of the more interesting user interface ideas out there. We've got all the parts of the puzzle, but it's taking more time than I would have liked to bring it all together.

Apologies for the long hiatus. Between Christmas, a vacation to Japan, and everything else, things have been hectic. But hopefully I'm back with a vengeance.

Topic: Hardware

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  • Multi-touch, Internet apps, and the web

    I think Tablet PCs will actually take off on account of multi-touch being added to Windows 7. Manipulating programs on a PC in tablet form is significantly more natural, faster, and intuitive than with a trackpad and physical keyboard. The resizable, onscreen keyboard now makes it practical for people to stay in tablet mode for much longer periods of time. People who only do light keyboard inputs on their portable PCs, may wind up hardly using their physical keyboards.

    I think it is so very important for MS to differentiate itself from the competition through the use of highly polished, capable, connected desktop apps that consume Internet based content. I think MS should favor the promotion of these apps being streamed by its partners over the Internet, along with the option of allowing users to download them; over vendors using a combination of Silverlight browser based apps, and downloadable desktop app counterparts. The above would skew application development heavily towards the Windows desktop again. Silverlight could then be used primarily to create lightweight apps which are unlikely to grow in sophistication.

    I agree that Silverlight, Flash, etc. apps should start supporting multi-touch. This should make browsing the web more fun and interesting.
    P. Douglas
    • Correction

      I wrote the following:

      [i]I think MS should favor the promotion of these apps being [b]streamed[/b] by its partners over the Internet[/i]

      I should have written:

      [i]I think MS should favor the promotion of these apps being [b]virtualized[/b] by its partners over the Internet.[/i]

      Also on second thought, maybe it is good idea for MS to allow the virtualization and Silverlight options wide open for its customers / partners.
      P. Douglas
  • RE: The mulitouch future of RIAs

    RIA?s have certainly started making a noise and there is definite demand for them. Plug-ins like Flash, Silverlight have bridge the gap between the power of desktop apps and Web apps. The foundation, these plug-in technologies are based on has made them even more attractive beyond just be able to offer rich UI.

    Multi-touch interfaces have shown the promising signs to improve the usability of traditional apps and no doubt would play the vital role in defining the better ways to interact with UI and Data intensive complex application. Elevating from the device level and grabbing the place in general purpose Operating Systems, Multi-touch interfaces have already made the intention clear and this is the sign of it becoming next generation interface.

    Today, RIA plug-ins are doing the balancing act of keeping the plug-in as lightweight as possible at the same time be able to offer as much functionality as possible compared with desktop apps. Knowing this, it would be interesting to see how this plug-ins would elevate and start offering competitive experiences.

    We at SpadeWorx engage in building such visually expressive and intuitive RIA solutions.
    Prateek Parkhi (RIA Evangelist)-SpadeWorx Software Services
  • Multi-touch Future

    I believe, making the software application available through Touch Screen interfaces could eliminate the need of user knowing how to operate the computer. This has huge potential to take the computerization to rural areas of developing and developed countries where computer usage is not the typical thing.
    The touch screen technology combined with Expressive Visual Communication through RIA can make applications easy to use for people. Rich Interactive Applications that are developed keeping touch screen in mind can leverage familiar yet powerful visual iconography to communicate with end user and including interactivity such as drag and drop can make the functionality easy to use.
    Prateek Parkhi (RIA Evangelist)-SpadeWorx Software Services