Apple announces iPad, a bigger version of iPod Touch. With a big screen of 1024×786 pixels. And it comes with basic need of surfing internet and be online. So called magical and revolutionary device does not support Flash and Silverlight yet. And most of business apps today, built upon RIA are running either on Flash or on Silverlight. And IT Devs are heavily investing in RIA technologies due to snail speed of WWW group. However, the device can replace a laptop for most of users who just spend time on internet doing their regular business, studies or entertainment. So lets analyze what will be future of Web for different type of users.
Today students need a good web browser and an internet with lot of social media websites to study, interact, entertain and play games. Apple iPad is a best bet for students. Do they really care that it does not support Flash and Silverlight yet? Answer is no. They will certainly buy iPad, come to the website, and if it has Flash or Silverlight, they will call website’s support instead of Apple’s support and say,
Your website is not working on my iPad.
Sales Reps and Business Owners
Looking at the cost, and attractive looks, Sales Reps and Business Owners will buy iPad because they usually do not type anything great whole day, all they do is, look at websites, present demos (which are powerpoint or keynote), and access their office through online business portals. For all these purpose they will be very happy with iPad. However, once they come to your business app through online portal, they cant see Flash or Silverlight, they are not going to call apple support. They will call IT devs and say,
What the hell IT devs are doing, cant they make our business app work on iPad?
Independent professionals like Doctors, Lawyers, Photographers, Actors .. anyone who probably does not sit in front of PC for more then 2 hours a day, will certainly like to get rid of big laptop bag with 4-10 external wires and device connectors. All what they do mostly is, check their emails, surf the websites, fill simple forms on some business web apps and which they can do it on iPad. Today iPad may not have great drawing tools but some professional apps on App store will certainly provide capability of tagging, drawing and marking tools needed by these professionals. Today lot of business applications are on Flash and new ones are coming on silverlight. But iPad will not support !! , once again, they will pickup the phone to vendor and say,
Your website is not working on my iPad.
Who needs any of following?
Clerks, Graphics/Media artist and IT Developers, which comprises of small part of computer users. Because their applications and workspace requires bigger screens and multiple devices, connectivity and computing performance. Apple’s iPad will be useful only to test the business apps and for other entertainment to this group.
It seems iPad will spread in Home Entertainment, Education and Independent Professional sectors very fast because of low cost solution. And that will shake the developer community.
Troubles for IT Devs
- Current investment in Flex or Silverlight is at stake, as usage of mobile devices is increasing heavily, supporting business apps on these devices will not be possible until device OS creators, Adobe or Microsoft work towards supporting RIA technologies.
- Silverlight/Flex are heavy and costly to run on battery based devices, they will consume more cpu and battery to create consumption problems.
- Rewriting apps in light HTML5 is a big challenge, training, planning and supporting all existing modules will be a big pain. However looks like World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has been sleeping for 10 years to create features of RIA required today. Need of consumers were high, that created innovations like DHTML, Flash and Silverlight, and the problem was, W3C never observed in market what consumers (Internet users) really need.
- Even if you decide to invest heavily on iMac and decide to make apps that can run on iPad, your Apps are at mercy of Apple Employee doing approval, here is the funny process.
Death of Free and Open Internet
IT Devs will slowly loose the independence over distributing apps against open free internet distribution. Today any release, distribution of media (song, movie, play) etc are controlled by major Labels.
If The Intelligence will be controlled by major Labels in IT with narrow route to success by Apple, Google, Microsoft etc giants, then the growth we saw in last decade in IT industry will slow down very rapidly and independent innovators will become slaves to major labels.
Will Bubble of RIA Burst now?
Once again, just like Dot Com, if RIA (Flex/Silverlight) Bubble bursts and all IT Devs will be blamed again.
RIA (Rich Internet Application) means faster means to develop light applications to fit in your business presentation and few quick interactive applications. With RIA you can not make a money tree and you can not become rich.
- Frontend Applications
- Small Quick Demo Applications
- Graphical Analysis of MIS
- Marketing Presentations
- Quick Forms/Data Entry for Mass Audience
- Polls, Social Interaction Applications
- Thin Client Applications
With RIA you can generally make a thin client applications, which surely needs to interact with high poerful web server or any other form of server over internet. RIA replaces frontend for modern internet applications from traditional HTML/JS form processing websites.
Traditional web portal applications (ASP.NET/EJB..) takes too much of time to process every single request, as it does not use full potential of client side computer. Every decision of which button to be displayed, state of an application and user’s choices and preferences, everything is maintained on server and applications utilizes too much of bandwidth as well.
Thats why, RIA is simple step to differentiate user interface and business logic completely with implementations of standards like SOAP web services and REST apis.
All RIAs are compiled at development site, that means the final RIA is in form of an application, which will execute accurately as designed. However in traditional HTML+JS, if any part of HTML is not rendered properly or its coded wrongly, there is no way to detect until it is delivered to browser and some error has been encountered. Pre compilation on RIA, reduces time required to develop web application drastically.
(I am talking about FLEX not Flash)
Community Support is very bad when you need quick solution in an emergency.
|Paid Support & Community||Paid Support & Community||Community Support||Community Support|
|Dependency||Flash Player||Silverlight Player||Java Runtime + JavaFX Runtime||XUL Runtime|
According to various statistics, the by default availability of dependent software on PCs.
Although few PCs and all MACs have Java Runtime, they still need something additional.
|30% as FireFox supports XUL Apps|
|Size of Runtime||1MB||4.5MB||30MB||4MB|
|Native Device Access||Camera, Mic and Speakers||Speakers||Speakers||None in Web App,
May be few in Desktop App
|Audio Video Support||Widely used FLV and MP3 format, stable and its there since 2001||WMV/WMA/WMA Pro||No||No|
|Converters for the Supported Video||FFMPEG and many other commercial vendors available||Paid Encoders||No||No|
|Documentation||SDK Documentation and Samples||MSDN but still very premature, (Reason, the learning curve is little higher)||JavaDocs but JavaFX is still new||Apache Documentation, very scattered, difficult to learn.|
|Syntax||XML + Action Script||XML + C# / JS / VB.NET||Totally New Syntax||XML + JS|
|Language Feature||Strictly Typed with “Object” being dynamic type||Strictly Typed,
Dynamic type to come in C# 4.0
|Strictly Typed||Dynamic Typed|
Flex introduced wonderful concept of auto updating expressions when properties or variables changes.
|Very Accurate||Accurate but lengthy code||Available||Better then JavaFX and Silverlight|
|Two Way Databinding
||Not Available, Coming up in Flex 4||Available||-||Available|
|Binding Declaration||Simple Attribute||Extra Code in each bindable property||Extra code in each bindable property||Simple Attribute|
|Code Size||Very Concise||Even simpler things like validator etc takes 6 lines, too big code size to maintain||Size is small, but very disorganized, difficult to read||Concise enough|
|Platform Availability||Windows, Mac, Linux||Windows Only||Windows, Mac, Linux||Windows, Mac, Linux|
|Stability||Very Stable||Pre Beta||Pre Beta||Stable Enough|
|Control Library||Rich set of Controls available, plus lots of free stuff available as well||Very basic controls, you have to spend money on other ISVs to get good controls||Good set of Controls||Almost everything is free, lacks good documentation though|
For project managers, how difficult it will be to find coders who will code.
|Easily Available as existing Flash, HTML, JS, ActionScript can code.||C# and Microsoft Technology programmers can code.||Java Programmers can code, but due to new syntax, its still difficult to get hands on it.||Very difficult as it requires too extra knowledge of mozilla architecture and various standards, which is not taught anywhere.|
Starting project is very easy, but ongoing maintanence and meeting deadlines requires excellent knowledge of technology, which you should not rely on community blogs, because time required to search any solution is costly.
|Themes/Skinning||Yes||Yes, but size of code is very big||No||Yes|
|WebService Integration||Yes||Yes||Yes but very frustrating||Yes|
|Upload/Download||The Best Feature in Flex||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Installable on Desktop||Yes||No||Yes||Yes|
|Database Support (in desktop app only)||Sqlite||Not Applicable||JavaDB
Too heavy and too slow
|Auto Update on Desktop App||Yes||No||No||Yes|
Plugins are available under eclipse and netbeans etc type of editor, but problem is they are so premature, they dont support refractoring, analysis, debugging and lots of other facilities.
|Flex Builder||Visual Studio||Plugin||Plugin|
|IDE Source Versioning||CVS
Good for Multiusers
|Source Safe (Single Developer only)/ TSS (too costly)||Plugin||Plugin|
|Drag and Drop Editor||Yes||Limited, because to script you need Visual Studio and to design you need Blend (Other paid software)||No||No|
|Code Intellisense (Auto Complete)||Yes||Yes|
Creating and importing shared code in the form of libraries.
|Component Development||Very Simple||Quite Complex as it is divided in User/Custom controls categories.||Available||Simple|
||Leader of RIA||Flex Follower||The Last||Linux Love|
Silverlight claims to be platform independent, but reality is, Microsoft no longer provides any more upgrades of Silverlight version for any other operating system other then Windows. And Linux was already not officially supported by Microsoft.
Advantages of RIA
- Reduce Development time
As compared with traditional web application, since RIAs are pre compiled, errors due to syntax, wrong spellings can be detected earlier at time of desiging.
- Load First, Run Throughout
RIAs load entire application (Except XUL) in the beginning, instead of HTML+JS, which loads as things proceed. This means, either application will load completely and work accurately even with slower bandwidth connection, or if some part didnt load, it will straightway display an error. So it works like transaction, either all or nothing. HTML+JS can behave unexpectedly in case of missing components.
- Seperate Design and Development Processes
Flex and Sliverlight offers complete seperation of Development and Designing keeping integration simple, other platforms (earlier web ones) require too much time integrating designs and process.
- Utilize Client Computing
Almost every computer has high powerful graphics capabilities, HTML/JS doesnt offer any great benefit over it. RIAs can completely explore native graphics capabilities and you get wide range of user interface functionality.