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Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Managing Rich Internet Applications [1]

After a few months to collect my thoughts, I have at last conquered my writer's block. Today I begin a series of posts on the topic of Managing Rich Internet Applications. The term Rich Internet Application, which I will often abbreviate to RIA for convenience, refers a Web-based application that Wikipedia defines as "a cross between web applications and traditional desktop applications, transferring some of the processing to a web client and keeping (some of) the processing on the application server". RIAs are most often implemented using either the Flash or JavaScript technologies, although the client-side processing could also be coded as a Java application or applet.

Wikipedia provides a useful, though brief, introduction to this subject; I will provide more references in future posts. Greatly complicating any coherent analysis of RIA technology is the massive amount of hype surrounding both Web 2.0 (a superset of RIA) and Ajax (a subset of RIA). I will also discuss these relationships in more detail in a future post.

Regular readers (if any should chance to return after my long absence!) will know that I will be focusing on service level management, and that I will be situating those service level issues within a wider context of application usability.

This is a broad topic, yet (as far as I can tell) a little explored one. I have been researching this subject area for almost 3 months now, and although you can find literally thousands of opinions and analyses of Ajax, RIAs, and Web 2.0 on the Web, very little of it deals with questions of performance management or SLM. So I'm not sure how many posts it will take before I run out of interesting things to write about. I suppose this may be considered to be an advantage of specializing in a field that most people take for granted. However, if you are planning to implement a Rich Internet Application, it would be a big mistake to take its performance for granted.

That was the theme of an introductory article I wrote recently for eCommerce Times, entitled Web Applications: Richer or Poorer? That article is a good place to start; it will give you a brief overview of the subject matter I plan to cover here in later posts, and introduce my world view. A key conclusion was that companies that decide to employ the technology must be prepared to invest more in design, development, testing and management to make it successful. In future posts I will justify and elaborate on that statement.

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