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How Should You Decide Which RIA Platform To Choose?

Software Industry Executives Agree: It's a "Perfect Storm" for Enterprise RIAs in 2008

"Which RIA platform to choose? Whichever one can deliver the best functionality combined with industrial-strength reliability, performance, and scalability will win the race." That, in the view of Bert Halstead, is the long and the short of it. And many of his fellow executives in the Rich Internet Applications business agreee.

"There is never a 'one size fits all' in this business," Halstead - Chief Architect at Curl, Inc., continues -"AJAX has its place for B2C applications with no client plug-ins. B2B and B2E applications with complex interactivity and complex visualization require different technologies. Products such as Adobe's Flex or Microsoft's Silverlight promise to address the multi-media applications (e.g. video, audio) better."

Curl's platform, needless to say, is what Halstead recommends as "the best solution for enterprise-class business applications."

Halstead, who will be speaking a AJAXWorld Conference & Expo 2008 East in NYC this week, continues:

"Curl has a decade-long pedigree, beginning with an MIT research project to improve the delivery of active content and applications over the Web. We have been working on this way longer than the AJAX frameworks, Adobe's AIR, and Microsoft's Silverlight.

We have a wealth of experience with our customers using Curl for several years now. So we have the first-timer advantage here. We have shown that Enterprise RIA is a different ball game than what's needed for simple consumer applications such as ordering a book. Also, the Curl language was designed to perform much faster than scripting languages.

We had a client-side JIT compiler, generating native code for the client machine, from the very start. So we position ourselves as the best platform for Enterprise RIA. This was vindicated by the InfoWeek award we got this January as the best RIA technology."
Naturally you wouldn't expect the program manager of Microsoft's Tools & Platform group to agree. In Joe Stagner's view (Stagner is another upcoming AJAXWorld 2008 East speaker), the various Microsoft offerings aimed at rich web enablement - ASP.NET AJAX, Silverlight, Media Server, and the Expression Tools Suite - are the answer. But one thing Stagner and Halstead agree on 100%: 2008 is the decision-year for RIA platforms for a lot of their customers.

"Companies developing web applications can’t wait any longer to solidify their RIA strategy," says Stagner. 

"The experience that web application users expect has been has changed profoundly as 'RIA' style application design has become prevalent," he continues. "It’s a 'perfect storm' for RIAs."

Jeff Haynie, Co-Founder & CEO of Appcelerator, isn't so sure that 2008 will bring more than "hot discussion" of RIAs because, in his view "In order for RIAs to truly become mainstream, developers and enterprises alike will need a next-generation RIA platform, a next-generation platform that will enable developers to rapidly assemble SOA-ready RIAs – client applications that can consume services regardless of language or platform."

"Last year, the overall demand for RIAs outpaced the qualified supply chain," wrote Anthony Franco recently, President of EffectiveUI - in which role he has the unique opportunity to listen to how companies like eBay, Ford, Random House, Viacom, GE, Dow Jones, and NBC think about the Internet & desktop software, and how innovative thinking can completely change the way they do business.   

"This trend will continue in 2008," Franco continued. "While last year brought unprecedented growth in RIA adoption— especially by Fortune 500 companies—RIA adoption in 2008 brings a new onslaught of risks, rewards, challenges, and opportunities for companies of all sizes."

Appcelerator's Haynie believes that In order for RIAs to gain serious traction, developers need an integrated platform that supports designing the “look and feel” of the application, supports widgets from multiple libraries (ExtJS, Dojo, Yahoo YUI, etc.), enables them to add dynamic behavior (event handling and DOM manipulation) through the integration of various JS libraries, and provides them with the tools they need to integrate with or develop new services on the fly.

"This is what the Appcelerator Platform is all about," Haynie says, "and we believe others will follow similar models to increase the speed and flexibility of developing SOA-ready RIAs for the enterprise."


More Stories By RIA News Desk

Ever since Google popularized a smarter, more responsive and interactive Web experience by using AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript + XML) for its Google Maps & Gmail applications, SYS-CON's RIA News Desk has been covering every aspect of Rich Internet Applications and those creating and deploying them. If you have breaking RIA news, please send it to [email protected] to share your product and company news coverage with AJAXWorld readers.

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