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An A to Z for the RIA Era

Platforms & Web Development Frameworks in 2008

From AIR to ZK, this is an alphabetical round-up of the fast moving-world of application development tools and frameworks spawned ever since the appearance of Google Maps, the canonical early RIA. The list includes AIR, Appcelerator, ATF, Curl, Dojo, Echo, Eclipse RCP, Ext JS, Flex, Grails, GWT, JavaFX, Kabuki, Nexaweb Enterprise Web 2.0 platform, Novulu, OpenLaszlo, Prototype, Rico, Ruby on Rails, Seam, Silverlight, ThinWire, TIBCO GI, ULC, WaveMaker, Yahoo! User Interface Library, Zend Framework, and ZK.

Editorial note: The words used to describe the various solutions are in every case taken from the sites cited, so as ever we encourage developers in every case to "suck it and see" by downloading or otherwise sampling the tool in question for themselves.

Omissions should be sent to ria (at) sys-con.com, and we will endeavor to include them in a future revision of this round-up.


Adobe AIR - cross-operating system runtime that lets developers use their existing web development skills in HTML, AJAX, Flash and Flex to build and deploy rich Internet applications to the desktop (http://labs.adobe.com/technologies/air/).

Appcelerator - a next-generation, open source web platform for developing Rich Internet Applications on a Services Oriented Architecture (SOA), Appcelerator is standards-based, supports all modern web browsers and can be developed in Java, .NET, PHP, Ruby on Rails and Python (http://www.appcelerator.org/index.html).

ATF - AJAX Toolkit Framework (ATF) from Eclipse provides and extensible framework and exemplary tools for building IDEs for the many different AJAX runtime offerings (Dojo, Zimbra, Rico, etc) in the market (http://www.eclipse.org/atf/).

Curl - a full-featured and robust technology beyond HTML and JavaScript, enabling the development of very rich Web client applications(http://www.curl.com/products.php).

Dojo - an Open Source DHTML toolkit written in JavaScript that allows you to easily build dynamic capabilities into web pages and any other environment that supports JavaScript sanely (http://dojotoolkit.org/about)

Echo - a platform for building web-based applications that approach the capabilities of rich clients (http://echo.nextapp.com/site/echo2).

Eclipse RCP - a platform for building and deploying rich client applications (http://www.eclipse.org/home/categories/rcp.php)

Ext JS - a cross-browser JavaScript library for building RIAs (http://extjs.com/).

Flex - a complete, powerful application development solution for creating and delivering rich Internet applications (RIAs) within the enterprise and across the web.(http://www.adobe.com/products/flex/).

Google Web Toolkit (GWT) - an open source Java software development framework that makes writing AJAX applications like Google Maps and Gmail easy for developers who don't speak browser quirks as a second language (http://code.google.com/webtoolkit/).

Grails - an open-source web application framework that leverages the Groovy language and complements Java Web development (http://grails.org/).

JavaFX - a family of products based on Java technology designed to enable consistent user experiences, from desktop to mobile device to set-top box to Blu-ray Disc (http://sun.com/javafx).

Kabuki - the Kabuki (a.k.a Zimbra) AJAX Toolkit is a client developer library, similar in style to traditional object-oriented widget libraries like Eclipse's SWT, albeit for JavaScript (http://www.zimbra.com/community/kabuki_ajax_toolkit_download.html).

Nexaweb

Enterprise Web 2.0 platform - a robust, scalable application deployment solution that supports the delivery of rich, secure, mission-critical business applications to users around the world via the Web (http://www.nexaweb.com/home/us/[email protected]=2300.html).

Novulo - an award winning visual web development solution for rapidly building and easily deploying AJAX-based web applications - starting with the user interface, the real screens that customers are going to use. Novolu generates the application from the user interface, and deploys them automatically on any LAMP or WAMP server (http://novulo.com).

OpenLaszlo - leading open source platform for the development and delivery of rich Internet applications on the World Wide Web (http://www.openlaszlo.org/).

Prototype - a JavaScript Framework that aims to ease development of dynamic web applications - features a unique, easy-to-use toolkit for class-driven development and the nicest AJAX library around (http://www.prototypejs.org/).

Rico - an open source JavaScript framework used to create and extend AJAX-based web applications: JavaScript for Rich Internet Applications (http://openrico.org/).

Ruby on Rails - a full-stack framework for developing database-backed web applications according to the Model-View-Control pattern. From the AJAX in the view, to the request and response in the controller, to the domain model wrapping the database, Rails gives you a pure-Ruby development environment. To go live, all you need to add is a database and a web server (http://www.rubyonrails.org/).

Seam - a powerful new application framework from JBoss for building next generation Web 2.0 applications by unifying and integrating technologies such as AJAX, Java Server Faces (JSF), Enterprise Java Beans (EJB3), Java Portlets and Business Process Management (BPM). (http://www.jboss.com/products/seam).

Silverlight - a cross-browser, cross-platform plug-in for delivering the next generation of media experiences and rich interactive applications for the Web (http://www.microsoft.com/silverlight/).

ThinWire Ajax RIA Framework - a framework for building zero footprint AJAX browser applications that feel like desktop GUI applications. Program AJAX on the server, using an event driven GUI model that reconnects program logic (http://sourceforge.net/projects/thinwire/).

TIBCO General Interface - an open source project focused on enabling rapid creation of reliable AJAX applications, components and portlets with the look and feel of desktop graphical user interface applications (http://www.tibco.com/devnet/gi/default.jsp).

ULC - UltraLightClient from Canoo is a library to develop Rich Internet Applications (RIA) in Java. It uses Swing on the client, standard communication protocols set by the J2EE container, and standard lifecycle management on the server (http://www.canoo.com/ulc/).

WaveMaker - enables the visual assembly and rapid deployment of Web 2.0 applications that meet enterprise IT requirements (http://www.wavemaker.com/downloads/).

Yahoo! User Interface (YUI) Library - a set of utilities and controls, written in JavaScript, for building richly interactive web applications using techniques such as DOM scripting, DHTML and AJAX and also including several core CSS resources (http://developer.yahoo.com/yui/).

Zend Framework - leading open source PHP framework, focused on building more secure, reliable, and modern Web 2.0 applications & web services, and consuming widely available APIs from leading vendors like Google, Amazon, Yahoo! and Flickr (http://framework.zend.com/home).

ZK
- an open-source AJAX Web framework that enables rich user interface for Web applications with little programming (http://www.zkoss.org/)

More Stories By Jeremy Geelan

Jeremy Geelan is Chairman & CEO of the 21st Century Internet Group, Inc. and an Executive Academy Member of the International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences. Formerly he was President & COO at Cloud Expo, Inc. and Conference Chair of the worldwide Cloud Expo series. He appears regularly at conferences and trade shows, speaking to technology audiences across six continents. You can follow him on twitter: @jg21.

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