Java and Rich Internet Applications

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.


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.

RIA

Ajax and GWT

GWT is a framework developed by Google that aims to compensate classic problems related to Javascripting (browser compatibility issues, maintenance and debug difficulties, ...).Based on the principle Java-to-JavaScript compiler, the GWT framework solves many problems associated with the use of Ajax and gives the possibility to use the same methodologies and working tools that are commonly used in the context of a standard Java development (using Eclipse, IntelliJ IDEA, JUnit, ...).

GWT provides a library of graphical components and integrates comonly used JavaScript frameworks such as scriptaculous.

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

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.

Some figures

  • 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.


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About the author

Pierre-Alexandre Riera
Pierre-Alexandre Riera

Pierre-Alexandre Riera leads Business Development activities for the financial sector and oversees the blue-infinity resourcing department as well as pre-sales.