Emerging Technologies in RIAs

Herbert Hoover said, “Competition is not only the basis of protection to the consumer, but is the incentive to progress.”

How true is that! Competition has given customers the weapon of choice. At the same time, it has driven enterprises to explore newer and more exciting technologies. A definite sign of progress we would say!

Businesses are now experimenting with applications in a bid to stay ahead of their competition. And they are smartly using Rich Internet Applications, popular as RIAs, to woo their target market. They are using RIAs to offer an experience that is rich and engaging for the customers.

So then what is new with RIAs? For a long time, Ajax, Flash, Adobe, AIR, Java Fax, etc have been referred to as popular RIA technologies. And now we have HTML5 and Silverlight climbing the charts of popularity. HTML5 is the extended version of HTML developed by World Wide Web Consortium while Silverlight is a Microsoft technology. Both these technologies are highly suitable for low power devices like smartphones and tablets.

HTML5

Like mentioned earlier, HTML5 is the fifth revision of the HTML standard. So why was this revision made in the first place? To support multimedia components in the markup language and still keep it easy to comprehend for humans and devices! As a result, HTML5 offers advanced semantic features like parsing text, video, audio, canvas, elements, forms, user interaction, microdata, security, etc. It’s a web based technical language that supports animations, scalable vector graphics, interactive graphics, etc with CSS3.

Being a revised standard of HTML, HTML5 combines the best of both worlds – World Wide Web Consortium and Web Hypertext Application Technology Working Group. Some of the most evident benefits of HTML5 are:

  • Open source standard platform
  • Cleaner and neater code
  • Reduction in external plugins
  • Device independent
  • Visible deployment process
  • Support for attractive animations with special effects
  • Offline application code storage
  • Geo location support

Additionally, in HTML5 designers can make use of fancier forms with form validation native to HTML. This fifth revision also makes HTML used to code a web page consistent across different websites. HTML5 also does away with cookies and instead uses sessionStorage and localStorage to track unique user data.

Almost all web browsers support HTML5 applications. This helps in SEO and optimizing website ranking.

Silverlight

Silverlight is Microsoft’s tool for developing interactive and engaging RIAs for web and mobile. A free plug-in for .Net framework, Silverlight is compatible with multiple browsers, devices, and operating systems. Microsoft launched Silverlight5 on December 9, 2011.

Now what makes Silverlight a technology to watch out for in the RIA space?

Wider Acceptance: Firstly, Silverlight uses XML application markup language and Dotnet technologies. Since these technologies are already known to the developer fraternity, the adoption rates are extremely high.

Familiar Language: Secondly, its language XAML is similar to HTML which means developers can create information files with dynamic XAML and reuse them whenever needed in RIA development.

Consistent Development Model: Silverlight further offers a development model that remains consistent across different browsers. So the developers do not need to develop and implement a different code for each popular browser separately.

Design & Development Tools: Silverlight also provides tools for design and development.

Now this was about why the developers are going gaga over Silverlight. But what about you as a customer? Why should you opt for Silverlight for your business applications?

Rapid & Cost Effective Development: Silverlight can reduce your development costs and maintenance overheads. Since Silverlight involves technologies already known to developers, you can have your application rapidly developed.

Browser & Platform Compatibility: With Silverlight you also don’t have to worry about browsers and devices. Your applications will deliver exciting experience to your customers across different browsers and operating platforms. This helps you penetrate different market segments.

Interestingly, Silverlight and HTML5 are running neck to neck when it comes to developing applications that are “out of ordinary”. Although both technologies have their own challenges, they are certainly making waves in RIA space. It has to be seen now what more we can explore in RIAs with Silverlight and HTML5.

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