Many companies have been searching for the perfect platform to deliver highly interactive Web-based applications that work well with Web services, but theyve had a hard time finding something that fits the bill.
Java applets provide a capable application platform but can be difficult to develop. Web applications based on scripting languages lack the interactivity of a full application platform. ActiveX meets many of the requirements but is generally seen as a security risk and runs only on Windows within
Microsoft Corp.s IE (Internet Explorer) browser. And until recently, Macromedia Corp.s Flash platform was used primarily for interactive animations and flashy graphics.
Filling this gap is a new set of development platforms designed from the ground up to meet the needs of these companies—platforms designed to build what are now called rich Internet applications. These applications are generally lightweight and simple to deploy to Web browsers, have easy and open development environments, and are built from the get-go with Web services integration in mind.
eWEEK Labs looked at two of these rich Internet application platforms, Curl Corp.s Curl platform and DreamFactory Software Inc.s DreamFactory Enterprise 6.0. We found that both platforms deliver most of whats necessary for building Web-based, interactive applications that integrate with Web services, especially when it comes to ease of deployment and the simplicity of the development environments.
However, these rich Internet application platforms face a growing threat from Flash, which in recent versions has become much more capable of delivering truly interactive applications. Flash is also very attractive to companies, given the installed base of Flash players and the fact that companies may already have Flash expertise in-house. In addition, Macromedia is expected to release in the near future a rich Internet application environment called Flex.
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