No Turning Back from Rich Internet Apps

Offering more than just dazzling interfaces, rich Internet apps for the enterprise will personalize interaction, empower mobile users and improve client and back-end flexibility. Here's what to look for -- and what to look out for -- when choosing RIA development approaches.

The 'Google Effect'So why the interest in rich Internet apps? The short answer is that Google did it. While there are many instances of RIAs out there, it was the power of Google Maps and Gmail that demonstrated rich clients to the average user. Google's use of Ajax and back-end APIs provided an interface close to native client apps for the user and provided capabilities such as dynamic interface updates, layers and windows, and even some disconnected capabilities. All of which made Google stand out from competitors that only provided conventional HTTP push and pull interfaces, technology that's now well over ten years old.

Google is the king of RIA developers. Google Maps proved what's possible with JavaScript. They continue to push the limits of Ajax, releasing innovative Web applications including Google spreadsheet and the Google calendar. Google leads with infrastructure advantages, as you need fast, close servers to pull off RIAs. Google is also providing RIA APIs including:

  • The Google Ajax Search API, which lets you integrate a dynamic Google search module into your Web pages so your users can mash up Google search results with other content on your site or add search result clippings to their own content.

  • The Google Maps API has been around for a year and defines how services can be exposed as JavaScript components for Mashup-type Ajax applications.

  • The Google Data Calendar API is the first of the new REST Google Data APIs that let you search and manipulate time-based information.

  • The Google AdWords API lets you automate ad creation and management on Google AdWords.
  • The Google Checkout API helps you integrate Google Checkout into your e-commerce infrastructure. --DL