RIAs are a platform play, AIR is a platform of standards

RIA == platform play

Neal Ford has a great post here highlighting how the new enthusiasm for Rich Internet Applications is an attempt by the big vendors to capture the kind of platform marketshare that the Win32 API had back in the 90’s.

Which brings us around to the current hotness, Rich Internet Applications (RIA). Ever wonder why Adobe and Microsoft are slugging it out for that space? And Sun is running along behind with JavaFX saying “Wait, we want to fight too!”. It’s the new platform play. We’ve dealt with the pain of writing good looking web applications so long that when someone comes along and shows pretty pixels, we swoon. Yes, you can create beautiful applications using Silverlight and Flex. And Sun showed some awesome demos of JavaFX at JavaOne. But, if you write an application in one of those tools, you’ve bought a platform. You are no longer in a standards space. You can’t take a Silverlight application and port it to Flex without a rewrite. Same goes with JavaFX. Whoever wins the RIA war has the new dominant web platform, just like Win32 back in the day. Sounds like a good reason for big companies to pour resources into the effort.

Bringing up that Web-based applications are standards based highlights the unique position that Adobe has with it’s AIR platform. You can use FLEX/Flash to create your RIA in AIR, but you can also use web standards markup and script to create an RIA. But even if you use Flex, the compiler and SDK are available under the Mozilla Public License. JavaFX will be available under the GPL once it is released. Adobe even opened up the Flash player. My point being that even though there isn’t a standard in place for those technologies, the format is open enough and allows people to build their own implimentations of those technologies.

  • Any does the GPL of Flex/JavaFX say its any better than the openness of XAML? You can look at Mono as an example of how Silverlight can be open too…I haven’t had a chance to read Neal’s full post yet so I might be off the mark.

  • John Stockton

    I would just add that it appears the Microsoft is also trying to play the standards card by adding XAML to it’s “Open Specification Promise”. If anything will come of this is yet to be seen but at least indicates that they are fully engaged in the “RIA as a Platform” war.

    http://www.sdtimes.com/content/article.aspx?ArticleID=31886

  • Jerino

    The FUD campaign over SilverLight / Flex already starts. Nice. Let me guess: Is this Ford guy an Ajax lover?

  • The “new open” isn’t as open as it seems to be (though it is more open than things were before). The control of the direction of the platform means you own both the canonical implementation (which will be on the leading edge) and you own the brand, and thus are the main reputable vendor when extra support is desired. The fringe associations with open source become a kind of magical pixie dust which adds allure and a patina of non-dependence, when in reality, you’re going to choose some kind of dependence anyway, because the main vendor is always leading the way. I’ve expanded in more detail on my blog.

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