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    January 25th, 2010

    600px-darmstadt_panorama

    We are happy to announce the second RIA forum which will take place in Darmstadt (close to Frankfurt), 23rd of April 2010! This time, with Canoo Engineering AG as premium sponsor, four well known speakers will talk about the advantages and disadvantages of four different ways to create effective user interfaces (especially in business contexts).

    Instead of giving details here I recommend to visit the forum page directly: http://www.riaforum.com (in German). Please be aware that we can only provide entrance to a limited audience, so if you want to join, make sure you sign up quickly.


    Cool RIA Sample Apps: Buzzword, Parleys.com Beta

    March 16th, 2008

    Buzzword

    In the second Canoo RIA newsletter, we added a new category featuring cool sample applications. Here’s what we had to say about Adobe’s online word processor, Buzzword:

    Buzzword (http://www.buzzword.com/) an online word processor is an example of a successful Rich Internet Application.
    The application is based on Adobe’s Flash, Flex, and AIR technologies. Users access the software by means of a hyperlink and can open, write, and edit documents just like in MS Word. A local installation of the Buzzword software is not required. Like Google Docs, the documents are accessible online.

    Buzzword was purchased by Adobe in October 2007.

    For further details see:

    http://blogs.zdnet.com/Stewart/?p=292

    Parleys.com Beta

    Another cool Adobe Flex / AIR application that I’ve seen running on the screens of our developers’ laptops is Parleys.com. Christian wrote about this application in his JavaPolis blog post. Parleys is an online application to view the JavaPolis video and slides (there is a Canoo talk as well, but the sound is very low and hardly audible 🙁 ). After installing Adobe AIR, the videos can be downloaded and viewed offline. A cool feature if you’re travelling with lots of time to spare.

    For further details on how to login into the browser version or how to install the standalone version, see this page.

    Last week beta version 2.1 was released.

    And here are two screenshots (click for large view) showing the application:

    Parleys

    Parleys - Video and Slides


    Adobe open sources BlazeDS

    January 15th, 2008

    This has been discussed in several Flex blogs, but I thought I’d add a cross-reference here:

    Adobe has open-sourced BlazeDS.

    “BlazeDS is Adobe’s server-based Java remoting and messaging technology. Adobe had recently announced that it is contributing the proven BlazeDS technologies to the community; previously it was only available as part of Adobe LiveCycle Data Services ES.”

    This is great news for Flex developers because BlazeDS simplifies the client-server split. In addition Adobe published the AMF specification, its binary message format. Have a look at James Ward’s benchmark tool at http://www.jamesward.org/blazebench/.

    See also Ryan Stewart’s blog post on the BlazeDS announcement.

    And there are plans to develop a Flex plugin for Grails using BlazeDS.


    JavaPolis 2007 – Desktop RIA and Mobile Apps rock the Scene

    December 13th, 2007

    This morning, I attended the second keynote at JavaPolis 2007 in Antwerp. Although it was not the “big” keynote (that one was held by James Gosling the day before), it was definitely the more interesting one to me. This is why:

    First, the Java community was hit by two extremely cool Flex demonstrations: at the beginning, Bruce Eckel and his co-speakers showed a Flex-based data manager framework that allows transparent and smooth synchronization of client-side and server-side business data, even between multiple clients and with clustered server nodes. Data changed on one client gets synchronized to the server (for example: to all cluster nodes) and then back to all connected clients. Not only does it allow the application to determine the “transaction commit point”, but it also provides support for conflict handling (again, the conflict reconciliation handling can be fully controlled by the application). Whenever a client goes offline, data changes are locally tracked and synched back to the server as soon as the connection is re-established. Failed cluster nodes get updated as soon as they rejoin the cluster. In addition, the data manager can also be used with Ajax applications. Although the demo application looked quite “ugly” (for a Flex demo …), the technical brilliance led to spontaneous applause …

    The second rocking Flex demo was Parleys.com beta: well-know for slick and smooth video and slide show streaming, Parleys.com is about to get a face-up. Well it’s more like a revolution. While it was based on Ajax in version 1.0, the new technology chosen is Flex. Of course, the visual effects are extremely slick and appealing. But what is way more interesting to me from a RIA point of view is the integration of the online, browser-based version with an offline Parleys.com client application based on AIR. When both clients are running, the browser-based one automatically gets enhanced by features available in the offline client – such as offline video availability – by smoothly adding new buttons and actions to the online client. That really rocks from a user experience and integration point of view! The new Parleys.com version is about to be released in Q1/2008.

    But there is a fight-back from the Java side: also worth mentioning here is the Java approach of browser-based RIA that was demonstrated in the IRIS sample application. First showed to the public at the last JavaOne, this application does not stand behind the Flex-based ones in any way when it comes to visual effects. The IRIS approach smoothly integrates Java applets with an ajaxified Web application. It was almost impossible to say what feature was powered by the applet and what was done using Ajax – and what was done by tightly combining these two technologies even for a single user interaction. The revival of the applets!

    To me, all these demos really show to me that RIA is still steadily increasing in importance. There is way more than just adding a few fancy Ajax effects to static web page – and the big vendors and technology owners are pushing the car forward. And the desktop is really moving back into the RIA world – it is no longer all about pure (and old) browser technologies, but about JNLP, applets, AIR & Co.

    But there was also another unexpected “flasher” in that keynote: JavaME. JavaME? Isn’t it dead? No, it’s not! Sun showed up with the new Netbeans Mobility 6.0 that extremely simplifies the development of JavaME-based games. But not only games, also business applications are finally showing up in the JavaME space (and are supported in a graphical way by the mobility tool). Using the SVG-rendering facility available in the MSA (Mobile Service Architecture), these UIs now can really look awesome (forget these old and ugly “text-based” mobile UIs …). And by adding JavaFX Mobile to the scene, Sun is pushing the Java mobile stack even further. As with Google’s Android, Sun aims to provide a complete software stack based on a Linux kernel that offers Java-based APIs to all phone capabilities which are then used by all the device vendors, third party RIA software service providers and the community to develop new-class mobile RIA applications. It will be very interesting to see whether Sun or Google (or both?) will make the deal with their approach. In the end, I think the device vendors are going to decide this battle: every cool software platform is only worth noting if there are a big bunch of devices available that ship the software by default.

    A few resources:

    All this mobile stuff now really seems to shake a leg. Very exciting!


    JUGS RIA Event

    November 14th, 2007

    Together with about 80 other persons (estimated by a JUGS member) I attended the JUGS RIA event. Bruno started with a short (15′) introduction into RIA for Business. He started with an excursion to the past and showed how the trend moved from terminal to desktop application, then to web applications and now finally to desktop-like Rich Internet Applications. For enterprise applications he listed three major opportunities:

    • Highly productive Tools with powerful user interfaces
    • Portal environment
    • Mobile devices

    While generally stressing the importance of interaction design, Bruno clearly explained that rich applications for mobile are not shrinked RIA applications but need to be tailored for the device. (A dedicated IPhone user speaking 🙂 ).

    Then Björn Müller was giving us a reality check for AJAX. In my opinion this was the most surprising talk. Björn presented some hard facts about AJAX which in his (and mine) opinion clearly limit the use of AJAX. Some of the facts to consider when planning an AJAX application:

    • Performance. JavaScript is 20 to 50 times slower than Java. Period.
    • Frameworks. There are a lot (too many) frameworks around which need evaluating. And each come with KBs of JavaScript code
    • Cross Browser Issues. Most of them can be solved but at a severe cost.

    The message I take home from this experienced AJAX developer is that he considers it a risk to develop rich applications for power user with AJAX. (Which was my gut feeling for quite some time, but now I have some facts. The slides will be published on the JUGS site for you to judge for yourself). But that AJAX is a very appropriate technology for application with casual users as the target audience.

    Finally Ryan Stewart, the Adobe RIA evangelist was speaking. It was very disappointing that he couldn’t show us most of the demos due to the lack of internet connection. In his talk he presented several RIA technologies, well known like JavaFX, Silverlight and Flex and others like Curl etc. One reaction he got from the audience was that they are more confused concerning RIA technologies than before the event. Interesting was that also Ryan sees a big potential in rich application for mobile devices.

    All in all a very interesting event, I only hope that other attendees felt the same. Feel free to comment and post your opinion.


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