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RIA & Ajax: Article

AJAX, Java, Flash, and .NET

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

Enterprise RIA Adoption Today
Though still in an evolutionary stage, RIAs have been adopted and proven at many leading organizations over the world. Many companies have adopted RIAs as the foundation for their business applications and achieved great success.

How broadly have RIAs been adopted? Though there are no industry-recognized statistics available, numbers from RIA solution vendors provide some insight. For example, Adobe claims that Flex has about 300 customers. Nexaweb claims that its platform has been deployed to over 4,000 enterprises.

It is also meaningful to look at which industries are adopting RIA. According to a market study done by Nexaweb in October 2005, RIA adoption spans a wide range of industries, with no single one dominating. Financial services leads with a 17% share, followed closely by healthcare, hospitability, and consumer products. (Figure 9)

From an application profile perspective, companies adopt RIA solutions for many different kinds of applications, including internal IT applications, B2B applications, B2C applications, and B2C Web sites. According to the same Nexaweb research, 48% of the RIAs deployed today are enterprise business applications, either B2B or internal, while 45% of them are deployed as consumer applications. (Figure 10)

Conclusion
To leverage the Internet for competitive advantage and lower operating costs, businesses need RIA solutions to overcome the inherent limitations of the Web as a platform for developing, deploying, and maintaining business applications.

There are different approaches based on Java, .NET, AJAX, and Flash for RIA solutions, and each approach has its strengths and weaknesses. Given the diverse application requirements in enterprise environments, no single approach will be able to span all enterprise environments. In the end, all four approaches will co-exist serving different application requirements.

Though different RIA solutions may be based on different technology approaches, the programming model centered on a declarative UI is common. The real differentiator is application logic development, which is determined by the RIA approach used by the chosen RIA solution. In the end, the application logic development determines application maintenance and scalability.

Cross-technology RIA solutions are exciting new developments. Such solutions should enable enterprises to adopt a common model and framework to meet different application requirements, while still enabling innovation and accommodating different developer skill sets.

Though relatively young, enterprise RIA solutions have already been adopted by many companies in many different industries led by the financial services. As RIA solutions are further developed, RIA adoption in enterprise environments will continue to grow.

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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.

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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?