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The Business Value of RIAs: An Informal, Virtual Round Table

It's a "perfect storm" for Rich Internet Applications right now, just add up the factors...

'The experience that web application users expect has changed profoundly as 'RIA' style application design has become prevalent,' says Microsoft's Joe Stagner. 'Companies developing web applications can't wait any longer to solidify their Rich Internet Application strategy.' Stagner was talking with SYS-CON.com this week as part of an informal, virtual round table on The Business Value of RIAs.

"It's a 'perfect storm' for Rich Internet Applications right now, just add up the factors..." Stagner - a popular speaker at the upcoming  in New York City in March and a senior program manager in Microsoft's Developer Tools and Platform Group - continues.

He then lists the main five, as he views it:
  • Browser users are more and more experienced and non-techies have become “experienced” users.
  • Web access in developed counties is approaching ubiquity and access in the rest of the world continues to grow.
  • High speed access, “broadband”, high speed wireless, even phone based high speed is becoming the norm.
  • Media technologies like Flash and Silverlight are enjoying great adoption.
  • The social networking phenomenon, have once again made content “ number 1”.
But before going any further let's just define RIAs as currently understood, and to do that we turned to Judah Phillips, Director of Web Analytics for Reed Business Information.

In Phillips' expert view, the principal defining characteristics of RIAs include:

  1. They are browser-based
  2. Typically involve some level of asynchronous communication with a server
  3. Enable some level of client-side processing
  4. Have a user experience that feels more responsive, speedy, and aesthetically pleasing than traditional web technology
  5. Provide deeper, richer functionality than what is possible using traditional web technology
  6. Automatically updated
  7. Platform neutral

Sam Elsemann, CEO of siteMagix, defines the principal characteristic of an RIA as above all "A user experience that is as intuitive and powerful as the experience the user is used to with desktop applications but that is also capable of leveraging collaboration and universal access from any computer on any network at any time," and this seemed such a succinct definition that we asked Simon Morris, a.k.a. Java Kid, could he go one better (shorter)?

He could.

"In short," Morris said, "an RIA is an application with all the user interface sophistication and functionality of desktop software, but with the deployment pattern of a web page."

Next page: The Business Value of RIAs

More Stories By Jeremy Geelan

Jeremy Geelan is Chairman & CEO of the 21st Century Internet Group, Inc. and an Executive Academy Member of the International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences. Formerly he was President & COO at Cloud Expo, Inc. and Conference Chair of the worldwide Cloud Expo series. He appears regularly at conferences and trade shows, speaking to technology audiences across six continents. You can follow him on twitter: @jg21.

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