Hugh Winkler holding forth on computing and the Web

Thursday, May 03, 2007

RIA -- Fill 'er Up!

I'm having an ongoing email exchange with my friend Peter. He's convinced MS and Adobe herald a new age of Rich Internet Applications. He pointed me to this guy who's backed up a tanker to the Kool-Aid trough.

Sure, MS and Adobe have to sell something as the Next Thing -- what else have they got? But we've had RIA ever since Java 1.1 applets. We have Flash. We have <embed> and <object>. Do you really think what's been holding RIA back is the technology?

Users have voted with their mice, and they've voted for the web experience -- exploring the web information space using hyperlinks -- as far more important than whizzy UI. Ask eBay. Ask MySpace.

Flash, applets, Silverlight, Javascript -- the more you use them, the suckier your web apps are at exploring the web information space. I don't think it has to be this way, but it takes a design discipline few seem to have. These programming models are from the 80s. They have web APIs, but they're not web oriented. Programs end up as little desktop applications, not web apps. I don't see Silverlight changing that. It is good to have super expressive widgets -- hear hear. But if you're not pushing a bunch of hypertext down to my browser, you're not helping me explore the space.

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