Rich Internet Applications

develop large-scale, Web-based enterprise applications. Traditionally, they have
used Ajax for smaller programs and have developed more important software
with technologies by Microsoft, Macromedia, and Sun Microsystems.
Microsoft is reportedly trying to simplify the development of rich Web applications
via a project code-named Atlas. Atlas will provide tools to be used with
the company’s ASP.NET, which developers use to create Web pages whose elements
are treated as objects.
Microsoft declined to comment for this article.
Greg DeMichillie, lead analyst for Directions on Microsoft, a market research
firm, said there is little information about Atlas except that “it will work by providing
much of the boilerplate code that an Ajax developer would otherwise
have to write, such as determining which browser is being used and adjusting
the JavaScript sent to the client accordingly. That makes Ajax applications easier
to write because developers can focus on code specific to their application.”
Macromedia’s Flash
Macromedia’s Flash is a popular type of Web authoring software that creates
vector-graphics-based animation programs.
According to Kevin Lynch, Macromedia’s chief software architect, Ajax won’t
supplant Flash because the technologies don’t do all the same things. For example,
he noted, unlike Ajax, Flash supports audio and video. Also, he said, Flash
is more widely available.
Sun’s Java
Java-based applications offer some advantages over Ajax-based programs,
according to Tor Norbye, a senior staff engineer with Sun. For example, he
explained, there are reusable Java components and toolkits, which is not yet the
case for Ajax.
In many cases, Norbye noted, Java supports Ajax, as in the June 2005 release
of Java Studio Creator. And, he contended, “The ideal architecture for Ajax
today is Java on the server, where the interesting processing happens, and
JavaScript in the browser.”
Thus, he concluded, “I think there’s room for both.”


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