AJAX remains a top RIA platform, preferred for stability

Jeff Feinman
December 29, 2008 —  (Page 1 of 4)
Rich Internet applications today range from the merely cool to the truly valuable, such as an intranet portal that lets U.S. fighter pilots deployed on missions around the globe keep in touch with their loved ones. When Chicago-based developer Roundarch was building that application, it picked AJAX as the project’s underpinning.

Dave Meeker, user experience strategy lead for Roundarch, said AJAX was the clear choice for the task. Its generic HTML and CSS base, along with a compelling GUI, make AJAX a prime platform for government projects.

“AJAX is sort of our standard way to solve a problem unless we have the option to move [away from it],” Meeker said. “We’re limited a lot of times by where we have to deploy an application.”  

Meeker’s company has maintained the Air Force portal for the past seven years, creating RIAs that keep U.S. airmen connected, as well as tools used for Webmail, logistics, planning and data services. The portal offers a “secured instant messenger,” with planned video chatting capabilities, which can be an airman’s only form of communication with his or her family when deployed overseas. Meeker estimated the portal has 850,000 registered users and called it the “main hub” of all software tools used by the Air Force.

Developers said AJAX remains a viable and flourishing RIA development method, even with Adobe Flex, Microsoft’s Silverlight and Sun’s JavaFX jockeying for attention. AJAX lets developers leverage their familiarity with CSS, HTML and JavaScript. Many developers have said AJAX is easy to use and is a good choice when it comes to creating simple dynamic Web applications. Also, AJAX can run on any browser, whereas Flex and Silverlight might create a problem when trying to upload applications in countries that might not have the same bandwidth and speed as the United States or Europe.

“When you start looking at applications that have to run outside of the U.S. and Europe, and talk about things being deployed in Africa and southeast Asia, you just don’t have computers that are as fast,” said Meeker, whose company has also done RIA projects for Hershey’s, The History Channel and Motorola. “Running the Flash player with 96[MB] of memory is really a bad experience. You can get away with building AJAX applications that perform better on poor hardware.”

Related Search Term(s): AJAX, Flex, Java, RIA, Adobe, EMC, Google, Roundarch, Sun

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