Current technologies give the possibility to develop more and more complex internet applications. Those applications called Rich Internet Applications are now used in the industry for backoffice applications because of an easier deployment while the functionnalities are the same than old fashioned desktop applications in SWING Style. Different types of solutions are available through RIA development on the Java platform and we mainly work with AJAX (GWT, JQuery, Dojo, Prototype) and Flash based technologies such as Flex or OpenLaszlo.
Ajax and GWT
Although GWT is a very new technology, its level of maturity is very good and its stability make the implementation of complex projects possible even in high level technical environments. Well suited to the Java world, GWT spreads easily on the J2EE standard and its architecture is well suited. GWT provides us with a promising technology that continues to evolve (GWT 1.6 is now also available).
Flex is a development technology based on interactive Flash and originally created by Macromedia in 2004. It was originally designed to provide a development model and a set of components more suited to the creation of business applications while keeping the foundation provided by Flash technology which has highly popular and widespread among Internet users.
From a user perspective, a Flex application can not be distinguished from a Flash application because the result is identical: the only requirement is to install the browser in the Adobe Flash Player. Therefore, it can usually access via the URL to the content that integrates the Flash files (SWF extension) and the application starts in the browser via the Player.
Flex technology is integrated within the set of products from Adobe:
Flex technology and development framework
Flash Player for the runtime
Flex Builder for the integrated development environment. Designers can use Flash CS4 or Catalyst for designing graphical content.
BlazeDS for the provision of services and Flash Media Server for the delivery of streaming content. It is also possible to integrate with Adobe LifeCycle suite
The Flex and Java technologies are naturally close. First ActionScript language has a syntax very similar to Java, second the development of Flex is made on the Flex Builder based on Eclipse and finally the channels of communication between Flex and Java are natively provided. The diagram below shows a Java / Flex architecture proven on many projects we achieved.
- A study of Scene7 : 90% of marketers say they want to integrate RIA technology on their site to improve the user experience.
- According to Gartner Group : by 2008, 48% of banks will deploy rich clients.
- According to Forrester : 70% of users prefer the greater usability of these new interfaces.