RIA platforms in internet world

Some of the top RIA platforms available today are:

Microsoft Silverlight

Silverlight provides a rich graphics and animation display via XAML integration, and it also includes support for multimedia and HTML interaction. With Version 2, the .NET Framework is included, enabling client-side programming with managed languages such as C# and supported dynamic languages such as IronRuby. Like Adobe Flash Player, Silverlight code runs in a sandbox without direct access to platform APIs for security.

Adobe Flash Player and Adobe Flex

Another way to build RIAs—and probably the most popular to date—is via Adobe Flash Player and Adobe Flex. These technologies are cross-platform and quite powerful for creating rich client-side interactions. Adobe Flex provides the option to create Flash UIs by compiling MXML, an XML-based interface description language. But perhaps the largest advantage of the Flash RIA platform is the install base of the plug-in, which at last count was 98% of the world's computers.

Ajax frameworks

Ajax, or Asynchronous JavaScript and XML (or XMLHttpRequest), is a script-based RIA approach. JavaScript is the programming language with which Ajax calls are made, and the XMLHttpRequest browser object enables asynchronous communication with the server. Data retrieved using this technique is commonly formatted using XML, though it is not a requirement. Ajax has quickly risen in popularity as it is supported by all modern browsers without the requirement for additional plug-ins. Like other RIAs, though, it is not well suited for search engine optimization or for handling clients that have disabled client-side scripts.

Adobe AIR

Adobe AIR (Adobe Integrated Runtime), previously code-named Adobe "Apollo," is a cross-operating-system runtime that allows web application developers to use their existing web development skills with RIA technologies (such as Flash/Flex, JavaScript/Ajax, and HTML) to build and deploy RIAs to the desktop. While not entirely RIA, this technology is closely related to rich applications technology as it targets the same developers.


JavaFX is a new offering from Sun Microsystems that complements the Java family of tools. It addresses the growing demand in the Java community for RIA tools and technologies to deliver rich content to the client. Today the technology spans two releases: JavaFX Script and JavaFX Mobile. JavaFX Script gives Java developers the power to quickly create content-rich applications for the widest variety of clients, including mobile devices, desktops, and home electronics units. In theory, content creators now have a simple way to develop content for any Java-enabled device. JavaFX Mobile, on the other hand, is a complete software system for mobile devices.

Google Gears

Google Gears is beta software offered by Google to enable offline access to services that normally only work online. It installs a database engine, based on SQLite, on the client system to locally cache web application data. Google Gears-enabled pages use data from the local cache rather than from the online service. Using Google Gears, a web application may periodically synchronize the data in the local cache with the online service whenever a network connection is available. If a network connection is unavailable, the synchronization is deferred until a network connection is established. This allows Google Gears-enabled web applications to work disconnected from the Internet, making them more like their robust desktop counterparts. While not entirely RIA, this technology is closely related to rich applications technology as it addresses the key problem of application connectivity.

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