Click here to close now.

Welcome!

You will be redirected in 30 seconds or close now.

ColdFusion Authors: Yakov Fain, Maureen O'Gara, Nancy Y. Nee, Tad Anderson, Daniel Kaar

Related Topics: AJAX & REA, Java, .NET, Adobe Flex, Silverlight, AJAXWorld RIA Conference & Expo

AJAX & REA: Article

Rich Internet Applications: Has Microsoft Finally Seen the (Silver) Light?

Even web developers that are comfortable with AJAX or Flex will soon need to immerse themselves in Silverlight

In response to the proliferation of other frameworks used to create rich Internet applications such as Flex from Adobe (formerly from Macromedia) and AJAX-based frameworks, Microsoft Silverlight was recently introduced.

All three of these applications, as well as the others on the market, enable a web developer to create an interface on a web page that is much more robust than traditional HTML-based pages once were. Extending the limits of HTTP/HTML, these technologies use proprietary rendering engines running within the browser, and XML as the major language with which to communicate with servers.

Microsoft’s entry into the arena of rich Internet applications represents the company’s desire to create its own version of the technology that extends the reach of their .NET framework.

What Are Rich Internet Applications?
Rich Internet applications provide an end user with an interface that is more responsive than traditional applications. Many of the frameworks used to create these applications, including both Microsoft Silverlight and Flex, bring more of the processing to the client rather than leaving it on a centralized server. The user’s browser does not exchange large, monolithic blocks of information, but rather sends small pieces of data at a time, usually asynchronously. And this means that only relevant pieces of the interface need to updated, allowing users to do more, and do it more quickly, than traditional web applications allow. For this reason, more and more web applications use rich Internet technology of some type to give the end user an optimal experience.

There are of course many other frameworks for rich Internet applications in use today, but Flex, AJAX, and Microsoft Silverlight are three that are more commonly known, and each merits a more in-depth look.

Flex
Currently, Flex has the largest market share of any other framework for rich Internet applications, with a penetration of around 90 percent, something that Microsoft Silverlight is challenging. Flex is built on Flash technology, which was originally designed to manage multimedia functionality. The Flash plug in, which is supported by most major browsers, and is freely available for download, runs its programs in what is known as a “sandbox” - a separate entity from the browser itself, and a secure environment that protects the user. When used properly, Flex enables a website to behave like a thick client application (one that exists solely on a user’s computer rather than on the Internet).

As with any client-side technology, there are drawbacks. Not all browsers start out with the Flash plug in installed, and Flash is also updated from time to time. In either case, the end user is required to download a new version if he or she reaches a page that requires it. Other frameworks for rich Internet applications have the same issue, which is seen by some as a drawback since not all users will (or are permitted to) download the plug in, and in many cases will navigate away from the page entirely.

Microsoft Silverlight
Microsoft Silverlight was created to compete with Flex and with other frameworks for rich Internet applications that are already in use. It is based on .NET technology and Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF), which is a part of .NET 3.0. While .NET is a Windows-centric technology, Microsoft Silverlight offers a lightweight version of .NET that is cross platform (running on the Mac OS as well as Windows) and that runs in a browser sandbox.

AJAX
AJAX stands for Asynchronous JavaScript and XML. It is a programming interface that is slowly gaining acceptance by some of the larger web presences, including Google (which leverages AJAX heavily in its Mail and Maps applications). As with the other frameworks for rich Internet applications and technologies in existence, AJAX gives a developer the ability to create a web page that behaves like a thick client application. However, it requires an understanding of the JavaScript language. In addition, not all browsers handle Javascript in the same way, and many users disable JavaScript in their browsers, both drawbacks of AJAX when compared to other frameworks.

The Benefits and Drawbacks of Microsoft Silverlight
The main drawback of Microsoft Silverlight at the current time is that it is not as widely used as Flex, and therefore could cause users to leave a web page using it rather than download the necessary plug in. Using Microsoft Silverlight would require a developer to leave behind the application with the greatest number of users and embrace a newer, untested application (with, admittedly, a well-respected and trusted company - Microsoft - behind it).

However, Microsoft Silverlight is very appealing for developers who already know .NET. While a developer would have to learn Flash and Flex from square one, he may already have an in-depth understanding of .NET and could therefore jump right into using Silverlight. Since .NET is already very pervasive in the web development world, Silverlight could easily grab market share in the future.

Conclusion
Even web developers that are comfortable with AJAX or Flex (or other frameworks used for creating rich Internet applications) will soon need to immerse themselves in Microsoft Silverlight, while new developers will want to learn about Microsoft Silverlight from the start. Because of its foundation with .NET, Microsoft Silverlight has a smaller learning curve than many other frameworks used to create rich Internet applications.

While it may take the average user some time to warm up to the technology used with Silverlight, Microsoft is a formidable company and is likely to make inroads with its product in the near future and to establish it as an important application to know over the long term. Anyone wanting to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to rich Internet applications will do well to learn about Silverlight now rather than later.

More Stories By Charlie Fink

Charlie Fink is Vice President of Product Development and Delivery for WestLake Training + Development(http://westlaketraining.com). He has been designing and developing leading software solutions for over 15 years and has successfully managed a large number of software projects, including enterprise development, complex data migrations, and decision support systems (DSS). As a project manager, Fink has also developed and lead client training focused on use and support of custom software systems.

Comments (1) 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
mSantos 04/08/08 03:42:21 PM EDT

Chris Pirillo has the same exact article on his website, posted a full two weeks before this article(http://www.lockergnome.com/web/2008/01/14/rich-internet-applications-has...). What gives, man?

@ThingsExpo Stories
Chuck Piluso will present a study of cloud adoption trends and the power and flexibility of IBM Power and Pureflex cloud solutions. Speaker Bio: Prior to Data Storage Corporation (DSC), Mr. Piluso founded North American Telecommunication Corporation, a facilities-based Competitive Local Exchange Carrier licensed by the Public Service Commission in 10 states, serving as the company's chairman and president from 1997 to 2000. Between 1990 and 1997, Mr. Piluso served as chairman & founder of International Telecommunications Corporation, a facilities-based international carrier licensed by t...
There are lots of challenges in IoT around secure, scalable and business friendly infrastructure for enterprises. For large corporations, IoT implementations are one of the top priorities of the decade. All industries are seeing a competitive need to sustain by investing in IoT initiatives. The value addition comes from improved customer service, innovative product and additional revenue streams. The data from these IP-connected devices can be leveraged for a variety of business applications as well as responsive action controls. The various architectural building blocks of an IoT ...
“In the past year we've seen a lot of stabilization of WebRTC. You can now use it in production with a far greater degree of certainty. A lot of the real developments in the past year have been in things like the data channel, which will enable a whole new type of application," explained Peter Dunkley, Technical Director at Acision, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
WebRTC is an up-and-coming standard that enables real-time voice and video to be directly embedded into browsers making the browser a primary user interface for communications and collaboration. WebRTC runs in a number of browsers today and is currently supported in over a billion installed browsers globally, across a range of platform OS and devices. Today, organizations that choose to deploy WebRTC applications and use a host machine that supports audio through USB or Bluetooth can use Plantronics products to connect and transit or receive the audio associated with the WebRTC session.
The best mobile applications are augmented by dedicated servers, the Internet and Cloud services. Mobile developers should focus on one thing: writing the next socially disruptive viral app. Thanks to the cloud, they can focus on the overall solution, not the underlying plumbing. From iOS to Android and Windows, developers can leverage cloud services to create a common cross-platform backend to persist user settings, app data, broadcast notifications, run jobs, etc. This session provides a high level technical overview of many cloud services available to mobile app developers, includi...
SYS-CON Media announced today that @WebRTCSummit Blog, the largest WebRTC resource in the world, has been launched. @WebRTCSummit Blog offers top articles, news stories, and blog posts from the world's well-known experts and guarantees better exposure for its authors than any other publication. @WebRTCSummit Blog can be bookmarked ▸ Here @WebRTCSummit conference site can be bookmarked ▸ Here
SYS-CON Events announced today that Ciqada will exhibit at SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Ciqada™ makes it easy to connect your products to the Internet. By integrating key components - hardware, servers, dashboards, and mobile apps - into an easy-to-use, configurable system, your products can quickly and securely join the internet of things. With remote monitoring, control, and alert messaging capability, you will meet your customers' needs of tomorrow - today! Ciqada. Let your products take flight. For more inform...
Health care systems across the globe are under enormous strain, as facilities reach capacity and costs continue to rise. M2M and the Internet of Things have the potential to transform the industry through connected health solutions that can make care more efficient while reducing costs. In fact, Vodafone's annual M2M Barometer Report forecasts M2M applications rising to 57 percent in health care and life sciences by 2016. Lively is one of Vodafone's health care partners, whose solutions enable older adults to live independent lives while staying connected to loved ones. M2M will continue to gr...
Dave will share his insights on how Internet of Things for Enterprises are transforming and making more productive and efficient operations and maintenance (O&M) procedures in the cleantech industry and beyond. Speaker Bio: Dave Landa is chief operating officer of Cybozu Corp (kintone US). Based in the San Francisco Bay Area, Dave has been on the forefront of the Cloud revolution driving strategic business development on the executive teams of multiple leading Software as a Services (SaaS) application providers dating back to 2004. Cybozu's kintone.com is a leading global BYOA (Build Your O...
As enterprises move to all-IP networks and cloud-based applications, communications service providers (CSPs) – facing increased competition from over-the-top providers delivering content via the Internet and independently of CSPs – must be able to offer seamless cloud-based communication and collaboration solutions that can scale for small, midsize, and large enterprises, as well as public sector organizations, in order to keep and grow market share. The latest version of Oracle Communications Unified Communications Suite gives CSPs the capability to do just that. In addition, its integration ...
The 17th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. 17th International Cloud Expo, to be held November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, brings together Cloud Computing, APM, APIs, Microservices, Security, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps 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 today!
While not quite mainstream yet, WebRTC is starting to gain ground with Carriers, Enterprises and Independent Software Vendors (ISV’s) alike. WebRTC makes it easy for developers to add audio and video communications into their applications by using Web browsers as their platform. But like any market, every customer engagement has unique requirements, as well as constraints. And of course, one size does not fit all. In her session at WebRTC Summit, Dr. Natasha Tamaskar, Vice President, Head of Cloud and Mobile Strategy at GENBAND, will explore what is needed to take a real time communications ...
The IoT Bootcamp is coming to Cloud Expo | @ThingsExpo on June 9-10 at the Javits Center in New York. Instructor. Registration is now available at http://iotbootcamp.sys-con.com/ Instructor Janakiram MSV previously taught the famously successful Multi-Cloud Bootcamp at Cloud Expo | @ThingsExpo in November in Santa Clara. Now he is expanding the focus to Janakiram is the founder and CTO of Get Cloud Ready Consulting, a niche Cloud Migration and Cloud Operations firm that recently got acquired by Aditi Technologies. He is a Microsoft Regional Director for Hyderabad, India, and one of the f...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Litmus Automation will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Litmus Automation’s vision is to provide a solution for companies that are in a rush to embrace the disruptive Internet of Things technology and leverage it for real business challenges. Litmus Automation simplifies the complexity of connected devices applications with Loop, a secure and scalable cloud platform.
In 2015, 4.9 billion connected "things" will be in use. By 2020, Gartner forecasts this amount to be 25 billion, a 410 percent increase in just five years. How will businesses handle this rapid growth of data? Hadoop will continue to improve its technology to meet business demands, by enabling businesses to access/analyze data in real time, when and where they need it. Cloudera's Chief Technologist, Eli Collins, will discuss how Big Data is keeping up with today's data demands and how in the future, data and analytics will be pervasive, embedded into every workflow, application and infra...
From telemedicine to smart cars, digital homes and industrial monitoring, the explosive growth of IoT has created exciting new business opportunities for real time calls and messaging. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Ivelin Ivanov, CEO and Co-Founder of Telestax, shared some of the new revenue sources that IoT created for Restcomm – the open source telephony platform from Telestax. Ivelin Ivanov is a technology entrepreneur who founded Mobicents, an Open Source VoIP Platform, to help create, deploy, and manage applications integrating voice, video and data. He is the co-founder of TeleStax, a...
As Marc Andreessen says software is eating the world. Everything is rapidly moving toward being software-defined – from our phones and cars through our washing machines to the datacenter. However, there are larger challenges when implementing software defined on a larger scale - when building software defined infrastructure. In his session at 16th Cloud Expo, Boyan Ivanov, CEO of StorPool, will provide some practical insights on what, how and why when implementing "software-defined" in the datacenter.
How is unified communications transforming the way businesses operate? In his session at WebRTC Summit, Arvind Rangarajan, Director of Product Marketing at BroadSoft, will discuss how to extend unified communications experience outside the enterprise through WebRTC. He will also review use cases across different industry verticals. Arvind Rangarajan is Director, Product Marketing at BroadSoft. He has over 19 years of experience in the telecommunications industry in various roles such as Software Development, Product Management and Product Marketing, applied across Wireless, Unified Communic...
SYS-CON Events announced today that MangoApps will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY., and the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. MangoApps provides private all-in-one social intranets allowing workers to securely collaborate from anywhere in the world and from any device. Social, mobile, and easy to use. MangoApps has been named a "Market Leader" by Ovum Research and a "Cool Vendor" by Gartner...
SYS-CON Media announced today that @ThingsExpo Blog launched with 7,788 original stories. @ThingsExpo Blog offers top articles, news stories, and blog posts from the world's well-known experts and guarantees better exposure for its authors than any other publication. @ThingsExpo Blog can be bookmarked. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal and enterprise IT since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago.