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The Rise Of Rich Internet Applications

This is the first document in the “Reinventing The Enterprise User Interface” series

The traditional tension between thin and rich clients has always involved significant tradeoffs between application capability and usability, on the one hand, and cost of deployment, on the other. Because the benefits of rich applications primarily fall to the business and the costs mainly fall to IT, this can be a significant source of tension between the two. Unfortunately, the capability gap remains wide between the best that thin client user interfaces (typically rendered through conventional HTML) have been able to offer and the capabilities of the rich desktop, despite numerous proprietary attempts to split the difference. RIA technologies like Ajax (asynchronous JavaScript and XML) promise to close that gap.

The attraction of the Web as a means to deliver applications to a wide user audience, both internal and external, without the costs of desktop installation has always been tempered by the limitations of HTML as an application platform. Designed for presentation and linking of content, HTML was never intended to represent application behavior.

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