John Dowdell of JD on EP wrote Browserism vs Neo-dekstopism after reading an article by Geoffrey Wiseman, The Three Religions of Rich Internet Applications. Geoffrey address all the technologies currently in the Rich Internet Application space including Ajax, Silverlight, Adobe Integrated Runtime, flash and JavaFX. There are quite a few Vendors competing in this space and developers are trying to select the right technologies to build on. From Geoffrey’s article:
Simon Morris addresses “three distinct religions in the RIA space.”
- Browserism is the belief that the web browser (or comparable page-centric markup-orientated HTTP-bound middleware platform) is the future of end user facing software; a belief solely based on observation that the web is currently the predominant tool for accessing the internet.
- Neo-Desktopism is the belief that the web browser as an end user facing application platform is ultimately an evolutionary cul-de-sac. The goal of Neo-Desktopism is to evolve traditional desktop application technologies (for Java, this would be Swing and AWT primarily, although also includes the JRE itself) to a point where they can float free of a physical local client installation, deploying on demand just like web pages.
- Pragmatic Neo-Desktopism is the belief that the web browser as an end user facing application platform is ultimately an evolutionary cul-de-sac, but we’d all get fired if we admitted that to our bosses.
Simon explains the philosophy he favors
- A desirable Rich Internet Application platform, I’d suggest, will be reached by mutating the current Rich Non-internet Application platform (aka, regular desktop app technologies) to a point where they can live in ‘cyberspace’ (ug!) rather than on someone’s hard drive, while still retaining all the functional richness and user interface finesse of their ancestors.
I always find it interesting that we separate ourselves into camps. I don’t think you would hear Ed Hume, a gardening personality, duking it out with other gardeners about a hoe or a spade being a better tool – he would want to know what you ant to do, and then tell you the best tool for the job. RIA is a tool that will help us move applications, access to content and collaboration forward. There might be different ideas of how to get there, but in the end they are just tools and technologies. I would have to agree with John in that I am more a techno-ecumenicalist, who appreciates multiple approaches, and who balks only at the more intolerant techno-fundamentalists.
- The web-based applications need to be rich in features and functionality. The applications also need to be fast – people no longer like to wait while data is crunched, or sent back and forth to a server somewhere.
- Easy collaboration of content between users, while still maintaining a high level of security and privacy.
- Access to content when offline. The Internet isn’t everywhere, and users still work offline – during these times they will still want access to their content.
- The applications need to be easy to set up, configure and use. The web-based applications need to be seamless for the user. A user shouldn’t have to worry if they are online or offline, the application should be able to manage issues of connectivity.
The desktop and web-based applications are definitely converging. We are starting to see companies that offer web-based applications that have great features such as the Zoho suite of applications. With the collaboration ability of these tools, and being able to access your content from any computer connected to the web. The one piece that is really missing is accessing content while offline, and this issue is currently being addressed with technologies like Google Gears.
This is definitely a space I enjoy watching.