Rich Internet Application (RIA) tools

Shanmuga SundaramDirector of Software Engineering
RIA (Rich Internet Application) tools are interactive internet applications which have many of the characteristics of desktop applications. The RIA tools typically deliver output either by the way of a site-specific browser or via browser plug-in. There are many RIA tools available today in the IT Industry for the developers. Some of the RIA tools are Silver light, Flex, Java FX, JQuery,HTML5 etc. Though there are varying combinations of RIA tools, the selection of the platform generally influences the tool selection.

For example, Silver light is the product of Microsoft. Hence Silver light is recommended to be used in the dot net environment. During development, silver light was developed under the name Windows Presentation Foundation/Everywhere (WPF/E) aiming to be the best RIA tool for the Microsoft developers with many number of controls.

In the case of FLEX, it is more mature and versatile than Silver Light and can be used with majority of technologies. Here we should notice that, FLEX is an Adobe product and when compared to silver light, Flex is the most widely used RIA tool.  The reason for its popularity is, it has more user interface controls when compared to silver light. It is also noticed by the developers that Flex has better performance than Java FX. Applications developed in FLEX reach more users easily because of its improved GUI and customer satisfaction generated results. Flex also has the ability in cross browser support. One of the advantages of FLEX is, it can be used to develop both web and desktop applications.

Java FX is a very strong contender to FLEX, but it is more recent and less mature. It created more expectation among the developers. The advantage of JavaFX is, it can run on desktop, browser and mobile phones. TV set-top boxes, gaming consoles, Blu-ray players and other platforms are planned. As the name suggests, this RIA can be tightly integrated with Java. As we are aware of Java’s platform independency, JavaFX can also run on any platforms.
JQuery is frequently used with Java, but since it has less user interface controls than FLEX it demands more development time. Jquery is designed to simplify HTML document traversing, animating, event handling and Ajax interactions for faster web development.  The advantage of using JQuery is its ability in cross browser support.

HTML 5 is the next evolution of the HTML standard is currently under development in a joint effort between the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and Web Hypertext Application Technology Working Group (WHATWG). HTML 5 is expected to set the new standards for Web architecture, and will contain some or all of the features of existing RIA tools. However the recommended specs are expected to be out until 2011, and some experts are speculating that complete finalization for the standard will not be until 2022. Early reviews suggest that HTML 5 will have features that are presently available in RIA tools such as Silver Light, FLEX, and Java FX. However it is safe to predict that RIA tool vendors will upgrade their products to encompass and possibly supersede HTML 5 functionality. If these vendors do not, then their products may be rendered obsolete.
Shanmuga SundaramDirector of Software Engineering

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