Welcome!

Machine Learning Authors: Yeshim Deniz, Pat Romanski, Carmen Gonzalez, Liz McMillan, Stackify Blog

Related Topics: Machine Learning , Java IoT, AJAXWorld RIA Conference & Expo

Machine Learning : Article

AJAX, Java, Flash, and .NET

Enterprise Rich Internet Applications (RIAs) are the next evolution of business application development

Enterprise Rich Internet Applications (RIAs) are the next evolution of business application development. There are four different approaches to RIA development - AJAX, Java, Flash, and .NET - and many different RIA solutions available today. This article answers the following questions: What are enterprise RIAs? Which approach should you use? Which solutions are appropriate for you? And how are RIAs being adopted today?

Welcome to a New Paradigm
The Web began as an environment for content sharing and small-scale data transfer via e-mail, newsgroups, and so forth. These initial uses quickly led to more sophisticated applications particularly in the e-commerce arena. However, the Web wasn't architected with rich application services in mind. Its document-centric model has by and large thwarted developers looking to leverage the Web as a platform for enterprise-class applications.

Beginning in early 2005, popular new Web applications like Gmail, Google Maps, and Flickr awakened the entire Internet community to the possibility of a far richer Web experience. Web developers were quick to discover and leverage the technical approach that these applications used, which was first termed AJAX (for Asynchronous JavaScript and XML). The excitement around AJAX focused more attention on the wide spectrum of Rich Internet Application (RIA) development tools and the various approaches available.

Gartner calls RIAs "the next evolution of the Web." They represent the next big evolutionary step for enterprise application development. They deliver the high performance and robust functionality of desktop or client/server software combined with the universal reach, no-install deployment, and centralized management of browser-based apps. RIAs represent the next paradigm for building, deploying, and maintaining enterprise applications. The impact of RIAs on business will match that of PC desktop computing - bringing operational efficiency and productivity to a whole new level, while decreasing costs.

Enterprise RIAs versus Consumer RIAs
In general, Rich Internet Applications can be classified into two categories: enterprise RIAs and consumer RIAs. Enterprise RIAs refer to RIAs whose users are primarily business users. This includes internal enterprise IT applications as well as B2B applications. Consumer RIAs refer to RIAs whose users are primarily individual consumers, such as consumer Web sites, as well as B2C applications.

Enterprise RIA Opportunities
A growing number of Fortune 1000 companies have already adopted Enterprise RIAs or will do so in the near future. According to Gartner, "By 2010, at least 60% of new application development projects will include RIA technology, and at least 25% of those will rely primarily of RIA (0.7 probability)."

Organizations that seek competitive advantage or greater operational efficiency are increasingly exploiting RIA technology to re-architect traditional client/server applications, such as those written in Visual Basic or Java Swing. RIAs can offer all the rich features and performance benefits of these "thick client" alternatives, while eliminating the need to install and maintain a custom client on user desktops.

Enterprise RIA technology is also of great value to companies that wish to improve the performance and user experience of traditional HTML-based Web applications. RIAs can radically improve the responsiveness of browser-based applications because they enable processing to take place on the client, thus reducing network demands in comparison to HTML's inefficient "click-wait-refresh" model.

Moreover, Enterprise RIAs mesh perfectly with Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) and Web Services initiatives (see references to Dion Hinchcliffe and Dana Gardner). Their role in this model is to deliver SOA-based services to users via a wide range of devices, while at the same time reducing the cost and complexity associated with managing networks and client-side deployments. In particular, RIAs can reduce the need for development teams to create multiple interfaces to applications using disparate technologies, as is the case with client/server and HTML-based architectures today. As SOAs become the method of choice to deploy both new and existing business services, enterprises will increasingly employ RIAs to bring those services to their end users.

Approaches to RIA Development
Though it's still evolving, today's RIA marketplace is already rich in choice, and IT teams are challenged to match technology options with business goals. But while there are a variety of approaches and products available for building and deploying RIAs, they nearly all fall into one of only two basic categories:

  • Object-oriented programming (OOP) based approaches, such as Java and .NET and
  • Scripting-based approaches, including AJAX and Flash
The comparative strengths and weaknesses of the different RIA approaches center largely on the programming model and application execution environment they employ. The programming model impacts development and maintenance efforts, the availability and cost of developer skills, the availability of industry and development community support, and such. The execution environment significantly impacts not only application performance, functionality, and reliability but the deployment model as well.

Comparing RIA Approaches
In general, OOP approaches confer the advantages of strongly typed object-oriented programming such as improved code maintainability and reuse, and are better suited for enterprise-class applications. Scripting-based approaches offer the advantages of scripting and are best suited to quickly finishing simple tasks done.

Among the OOP-based approaches:

  • Java-based RIAs generally leverage a client-side Java engine. Client-side application logic (if any) is written in Java, while the UI is defined using XML. The client-side components execute inside a Java Virtual Machine (JVM) that is typically embedded in a browser.
  • .NET-based RIAs rely on a .NET virtual machine. The UI can be programmed using .NET controls or Microsoft's XAML. Client-side logic is generally programmed in C# or a similar language.

    Among scripting-based approaches:

  • AJAX-based RIAs typically employ a relatively simple browser-based JavaScript library for greater interactivity. The UI is most often defined using DHTML/JavaScript; client-side logic is also written in JavaScript. The client-side execution environment is the browser itself.
  • Flash-based RIAs run in the Flash animation engine. The UI is defined using SWF (a proprietary binary format for defining Flash-based movies) or with XML markup compiled into SWF. Client-side logic is programmed in ActionScript, a scripting language developed by Macromedia (now Adobe).
Table 1 summarizes the advantages and disadvantages of these four approaches.

RIA Solutions Today
There are many RIA solutions available today. Each of them fits into one of the approaches mentioned above. Some of the solutions come with tooling that can simplify development and maintenance. Table 2 shows a list of solutions available today.

General RIA Programming Model
Although there are many different RIA solutions based on different underlying technology platforms, the general RIA programming model is actually converging into a single common model.

Declarative UI Development
The general RIA programming model is centered on using an XML-based UI markup language to create a rich user interface. The XML-based UI markup provides a much higher level of abstraction than HTML for building rich user interfaces. XML UI frees programmers to focus on the application's core logic and explicitly complements the roles of a typical enterprise development team (see reference "XML for Client-side Computing").

Below are examples from a scripting-based approach (Laszlo Systems) as well as an OOP-based approach (Nexaweb). Both are zero-install and can run inside any popular Web browser today without any software download. On the client side, Laszlo requires a Flash engine (Flash 6 and above) while Nexaweb requires a JVM (JDK 1.1 and above).

Laszlo is a Flash-based RIA solution. It uses an XML UI markup language called "lzx" to describe the UI and uses ActionScript to code application logic. The Laszlo server will automatically compile lzx files into the Flash binary format (SWF), deliver the SWF files for rendering inside a Flash engine, and execute the application. (Figure 1) Following is an example of the Laszlo code:

<canvas height="450">
   <window x="10" y="10" width="300" height="200"
      title="my window"
      resizable="true" closeable="true">
<button x="10" y="100">Hello, World</button>
   </window>
</canvas>

By comparison, Nexaweb is a Java-based RIA product. Developers would use an XML-based UI markup to create a rich user interface and build client-side business logic by writing client-side Java objects called Managed Client Objects that are standard Java program objects. The Nexaweb client runtime dynamically renders the XML UI markup to present a rich user interface, and dynamically downloads client-side Java objects to the client side for execution in a "on-demand" fashion. (Figure 2) Here is a simple Nexaweb UI that defines a tree and a button managed by a layout manager:

<xal xmlns="http://www.openxal.org/xal">
   <window title="New Window">
   <boxLayout orientation="vertical" pack="start" align="stretch"/>
     <tree>
       <column/>
       <row expanded="true">
         <cell text="Tree Item 1"/>
         <row>
           <cell text="Sub Tree Item 1"/>
         </row>
         <row>
           <cell text="Sub Tree Item 2"/>
         </row>
       </row>
       <row expanded="true">
         <cell text="Tree Item 2"/>
         <row>
           <cell text="Sub Tree Item 3"/>
         </row>
       </row>
     </tree>
     <button text="OK"/>
   </window>
</xal>

As shown in these two code examples, though Nexaweb uses Java and Laszlo uses Flash, RIA UI development is conceptually identical between the two different RIA solutions.


More Stories By Coach Wei

Coach Wei is founder and CEO of Yottaa, a web performance optimization company. He is also founder and Chairman of Nexaweb, an enterprise application modernization software company. Coding, running, magic, robot, big data, speed...are among his favorite list of things (not necessarily in that order. His coding capability is really at PowerPoint level right now). Caffeine, doing something entrepreneurial and getting out of sleeping are three reasons that he gets up in the morning and gets really excited.

Comments (4) View Comments

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


Most Recent Comments
Jeff 06/14/06 01:52:44 PM EDT

Coach, please look more into the Flash technology from Adobe in regard to Flex and ColdFusion, Java, .Net backend. It is 100% OOP. Please do a bit more research before you write something in regard to a technology such as ActionScript/Flash and it's capabilties. IMHO Flex 2.0 will leave AJAX, a RWA (Rich Web Application) solution behind due to its abilities to run outside the browser as well as in, a characteristic of a true RIA. Good luck to you.

David Bolsover 06/14/06 05:58:19 AM EDT

A facinating article; I have worked with both web and desktop Java applications I'm presently working with Swing clients and taking advantage of some of the new work coming out of the SwingLabs projects (JDNC, Databinding etc.) - but this article has given me considerable pause for thought.

It looks like we are in for some interesting times ahead - and making the right choice of technology today will bring significant rewards for the future.

One thing is certain if Java is to maintain it's share of the marketplace, it must continue to grow and work such at that underway on JSR 295: Beans Binding and JSR 227: A Standard Data Binding & Data Access Facility for J2EE will become increasingly important.

Mark 06/09/06 01:23:25 AM EDT

I'm sure that you are going to receive hundreds of emails from people all letting you know which framework that you missed. Ajaxian does a framework review periodically and I think that they are well over 100 different frameworks...

I do think that you neglected to mention some of the next generation frameworks that are emerging to address the hodgepodge of technologies that you have to manage and integrate in the enterprise RIA space.

Probably one of the latest example is going to be the Google Web Toolkit that was recently announced. Basically this is a framework for AJAX based RIA's where everything is developed in Java (Servlets) on the server which emit javascript/DHTML/AJAX to the browser.

For internal development, the GWT is an excellent option, but if you are looking for an open source solution, you should check out Echo2. (http://www.nextapp.com/platform/echo2/echo/). Essentially the same thing, interfaces can be built on the server in Java and rendered into the browser with AJAX, etc. I believe the UI can be tweeked with CSS as well. Check out the demos.

Finally, for a commercial framework, the Tibco product from IBM is a very powerful framework. UI development is done using an AJAX IDE, written using the framework of course. There are several javascript components that speak SOAP so you can quickly participate in an SOA. Very heavy on the browser because significant heavy lifting is done using javascript in the browser.

Unfortunately I'm unsure of any .Net frameworks... I believe that Atlas is supposed to be the GWT / Echo2 alternative for .Net AJAX developement...

Thanks for a great article!
Mark

AJAXWorld News Desk 06/08/06 03:52:33 PM EDT

Enterprise Rich Internet Applications (RIAs) are the next evolution of business application development. There are four different approaches to RIA development - AJAX, Java, Flash, and .NET - and many different RIA solutions available today. This article answers the following questions: What are enterprise RIAs? Which approach should you use? Which solutions are appropriate for you? And how are RIAs being adopted today?

@CloudExpo Stories
SYS-CON Events announced today that CA Technologies has been named "Platinum Sponsor" of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, New York, and 21st International Cloud Expo, which will take place in November in Silicon Valley, California.
The 20th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo, to be held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, brings together Cloud Computing, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Containers, Microservices and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportunity. Submit your speaking proposal ...
New competitors, disruptive technologies, and growing expectations are pushing every business to both adopt and deliver new digital services. This ‘Digital Transformation’ demands rapid delivery and continuous iteration of new competitive services via multiple channels, which in turn demands new service delivery techniques – including DevOps. In this power panel at @DevOpsSummit 20th Cloud Expo, moderated by DevOps Conference Co-Chair Andi Mann, panelists will examine how DevOps helps to meet th...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Juniper Networks (NYSE: JNPR), an industry leader in automated, scalable and secure networks, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Juniper Networks challenges the status quo with products, solutions and services that transform the economics of networking. The company co-innovates with customers and partners to deliver automated, scalable and secure network...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Juniper Networks (NYSE: JNPR), an industry leader in automated, scalable and secure networks, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Juniper Networks challenges the status quo with products, solutions and services that transform the economics of networking. The company co-innovates with customers and partners to deliver automated, scalable and secure network...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Hitachi, the leading provider the Internet of Things and Digital Transformation, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Hitachi Data Systems, a wholly owned subsidiary of Hitachi, Ltd., offers an integrated portfolio of services and solutions that enable digital transformation through enhanced data management, governance, mobility and analytics. We help globa...
@DevOpsSummit has been named the ‘Top DevOps Influencer' by iTrend. iTred processes millions of conversations, tweets, interactions, news articles, press releases, blog posts - and extract meaning form them and analyzes mobile and desktop software platforms used to communicate, various metadata (such as geo location), and automation tools. In overall placement, @DevOpsSummit ranked as the number one ‘DevOps Influencer' followed by @CloudExpo at third, and @MicroservicesE at 24th.
SYS-CON Events announced today that T-Mobile will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. As America's Un-carrier, T-Mobile US, Inc., is redefining the way consumers and businesses buy wireless services through leading product and service innovation. The Company's advanced nationwide 4G LTE network delivers outstanding wireless experiences to 67.4 million customers who are unwilling to compromise on ...
Five years ago development was seen as a dead-end career, now it’s anything but – with an explosion in mobile and IoT initiatives increasing the demand for skilled engineers. But apart from having a ready supply of great coders, what constitutes true ‘DevOps Royalty’? It’ll be the ability to craft resilient architectures, supportability, security everywhere across the software lifecycle. In his keynote at @DevOpsSummit at 20th Cloud Expo, Jeffrey Scheaffer, GM and SVP, Continuous Delivery Busine...
20th Cloud Expo, taking place June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy.
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo 2016 in New York. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is as "IoT-Ready" as it can be! Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, New York, is co-located with 20th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry p...
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing Cloud strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @CloudExpo | @ThingsExpo, June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY and October 31 - November 2, 2017, Santa Clara Convention Center, CA. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is on the right path to Digital Transformation.
SYS-CON Events announced today that SoftLayer, an IBM Company, has been named “Gold Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York, New York. SoftLayer, an IBM Company, provides cloud infrastructure as a service from a growing number of data centers and network points of presence around the world. SoftLayer’s customers range from Web startups to global enterprises.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Hitachi, the leading provider the Internet of Things and Digital Transformation, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Hitachi Data Systems, a wholly owned subsidiary of Hitachi, Ltd., offers an integrated portfolio of services and solutions that enable digital transformation through enhanced data management, governance, mobility and analytics. We help globa...
Blockchain is a shared, secure record of exchange that establishes trust, accountability and transparency across supply chain networks. Supported by the Linux Foundation's open source, open-standards based Hyperledger Project, Blockchain has the potential to improve regulatory compliance, reduce cost and time for product recall as well as advance trade. Are you curious about Blockchain and how it can provide you with new opportunities for innovation and growth? In her session at 20th Cloud Exp...
Cloud promises the agility required by today’s digital businesses. As organizations adopt cloud based infrastructures and services, their IT resources become increasingly dynamic and hybrid in nature. Managing these require modern IT operations and tools. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Raj Sundaram, Senior Principal Product Manager at CA Technologies, will discuss how to modernize your IT operations in order to proactively manage your hybrid cloud and IT environments. He will be sharing be...
Back in February of 2017, Andrew Clay Schafer of Pivotal tweeted the following: “seriously tho, the whole software industry is stuck on deployment when we desperately need architecture and telemetry.” Intrigue in a 140 characters. For me, I hear Andrew saying, “we’re jumping to step 5 before we’ve successfully completed steps 1-4.”
In his keynote at 19th Cloud Expo, Sheng Liang, co-founder and CEO of Rancher Labs, discussed the technological advances and new business opportunities created by the rapid adoption of containers. With the success of Amazon Web Services (AWS) and various open source technologies used to build private clouds, cloud computing has become an essential component of IT strategy. However, users continue to face challenges in implementing clouds, as older technologies evolve and newer ones like Docker c...
NHK, Japan Broadcasting, will feature the upcoming @ThingsExpo Silicon Valley in a special 'Internet of Things' and smart technology documentary that will be filmed on the expo floor between November 3 to 5, 2015, in Santa Clara. NHK is the sole public TV network in Japan equivalent to the BBC in the UK and the largest in Asia with many award-winning science and technology programs. Japanese TV is producing a documentary about IoT and Smart technology and will be covering @ThingsExpo Silicon Val...
As pervasive as cloud technology is -- and as persuasive as the arguments are for using it -- the cloud has its limits. Some companies will always have security concerns about storing data in the cloud and certain high-transaction applications will always be better suited for on-premises storage. Those statements were among the bottom-line takeaways delivered at Cloud Expo this week, a three day, bi-annual event focused on cloud technologies, adoption and associated challenges.