I figured I’d post a quick summary on the “state of the nation” in regards to RIAs since it has been a very active couple of months.
Kevin Whinnery has an interesting blog titled Which RIA Tools Give Us the Best Bang for Your Buck?. Interesting because I agree with his analysis: there is no best RIA tool out there, only trade-offs.
As I had mentioned in Spry 1.7 is Coming Soon AJAX and Flex are now considered complementary: the former specializes in moderately rich interfaces, but may lead to expensive Write Once, Debug Everywhere projects, whereas the latter allows for more expressive interfaces at the cost of surrendering part of your [software's] freedom to private interests.
On the topic of MVC-ish frameworks (as referred to by Kevin Whinnery), it is worth noting that Flex too can be a very efficient MVC development framework with Cairngorm, but most particularly with PureMVC which Laurent Brigaut, INM’s Director of R&D, will speak about at Webmaniacs tomorrow.
RIA War Is Brewing is another interesting and recent article by Jim Rapoza. Although I perceive this competition as more of a Socratic dialectic applied to the business world than a true battle, Jim converges on the same conclusion as this Blog consistently promotes: real competition is now between Adobe and Microsoft. Whether other RIA tools can be categorized as Lada‘s or Aston Martin‘s, one way or another, they are marginal and only suited for niche applications.
Once online and offline environments are mastered for desktop computers, laptops and kiosks, the next natural step for RIA technologies is the propagation to mobile devices. Tablet technologies have a very promising future but are still embryonic. Thus the smartphone is the next logical platform of choice.
Very interesting plans are unfolding on this new frontier with Microsoft demonstrating serious progress with Silverlight and Adobe coming out of its 20th Century bi-standard policies (Flash Player and Flash Lite Player) with the Open Screen Project. Google fosters the Open Handset Alliance with the Android project, and Sun is behind its JavaFX developers, but neither will deliver truly rich applications, at least not in the foreseeable future. But this is a topic for another day, and another posting.