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Rich Internet Applications

Rich Internet Application – the Look & Feel of a Desktop Application

RIA or Rich Internet Application development refers to developing a web application that runs in a browser, yet looks and feels like a desktop PC application. The RIA software developer will build the program to look and operate like the desktop applicationsĀ  we use on a daily basis in terms of features, functionality, and appearance. This gives the consumer a familiar environment in which they can spend a majority of their time in. Things we’ve all become familiar with in our desktop programs like sharp graphics, video and animations, and drag and drop interoperability between applications are an example of some of the features found in many RIA platforms. Major players in the RIA arena include Microsoft’s Silverlight, Sun’s JavaFX, and Adobe’s Integrated Runtime, although there are several niche-players and emerging products that compete along the same lines.

The major features that these frameworks provide (with some exceptions) are the following:

  1. Strong IDE integration that helps RIA development by providing graphical tools to layout the user interface. This usually results in a declarative front-end with bindings to functionality that does the heavy lifting in the back-end.
  2. Support for major types of audio/video/multimedia formats.
  3. Fast and easy installation of the runtime, usually with a browser based plugin.
  4. Offline support, allowing the rich internet application to run even while disconnected from the internet. Usually this is accompanied with a local (client-side) database such as SQLite that can synchronize with the remote database once the connection is re-established.