Rich Internet apps that double as desktop apps

RIAs can make Web browsers as responsive as desktop applications. We look at four technologies that cross the online gap.

I am not especially impressed with the Silverlight 2 local data caching and isolated storage facilities, which are not safe from access by unmanaged code and lack an actual database. (For many occasionally connected applications, you want a local database not only to cache information read from the remote database, but also to store updates to be sent to the remote database when the connection is restored. It's easier, more efficient, more secure and more reliable to do this with a local database than with a simple caching facility.)

On the other hand, I'm very enthusiastic about Silverlight 2 as an RIA. If I wanted to build a Silverlight Web application and needed a desktop version as well, I would lean toward separately compiling the application for WPF. I would expect to have more than 90% of the code shared between the two projects if planned properly.

The Silverlight plug-ins, Silverlight SDK, .Net Framework and Visual Studio Express Editions are free; Visual Studio 2008 Standard Edition is US$299 (US$199 upgrade); Professional Edition is US$799 (US$549 upgrade). Subscriptions range from US$1,199 for Visual Studio Professional with MSDN Professional up to US$10,939 for Visual Studio Team System 2008 Team Suite with MSDN Premium. Expression Blend 2 is US$499 (US$99 upgrade).

Conclusions

The first question to ask when picking a desktop RIA is how the application will be used, both as a Web application and a desktop application. Then list the features you need. Are those features present in the RIAs you are considering? Are there ways to add missing features? Are you looking to enable fully or occasionally connected scenarios?

Once you've got your questions ready, you can figure out which RIA is best for your needs.

Would it be better if you had separate desktop and Web applications that shared a common code base? If so, consider a combination of WPF and Silverlight.

Will your application have CPU-bound portions? If so, consider Silverlight and Curl Nitro.

Does your application need to run locally without a browser? If so, consider Air and Curl Nitro.

Do your developers already know WPF and the .Net Framework? If so, consider Silverlight. Do they already know Flash and Flex? If so, consider Air.

Do you already have an AJAX Web application? If so, consider Air and Gears.

Finally, ask yourself if you really need a desktop RIA at all. Sometimes building a second interface for an application is a relatively small effort, if most of the work is being done by a common back end or if most of the code is common to both versions of the application. In the larger picture, sometimes the advantages to users of having separate but optimized desktop and Web user interfaces may outweigh the costs and time involved.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags rich internet applications

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Martin Heller

Computerworld
Show Comments

Cool Tech

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?