Rich Internet Applications

Microsoft’s “Silverlight” announcement a few days ago has gotten a lot of positive early attention (see here and here and especially here for examples) and focused attention on the category of Rich Internet Applications. The Mono folks have announced that they’re going to do a Linux version, tentatively codenamed “Moonlight.” OpenLazlo, a pioneer RIA, has been discussed as a Google acquisition target, if AJAX and the persistence engine planned for Firefox 3.0 aren’t enough. And Silverlight, uh, overshadowed Adobe’s recent Flex announcement.

All the initial reports suggest that Microsoft, presumably under the watchful eye of Ray Ozzie, got this one right; it’s fast, small, beautiful, and reclaims space for Microsoft on the desktop. Can Office on Silverlight be far behind?

I’ve used the New York Times Reader (free trial, $15/mo., included with paper subscription) which is based on Silverlight and it is a great experience. You don’t need to be online to use it; in fact, it sort of blurs the distinction between being on and off line to the extent that you don’t really care so much. And it has rich controls for viewing, much better, because it’s customized for reading a newspaper, than a plain old browser, even with all the cool Javascript and prefetching tricks.

Lazlo claims some corporate customers, but from what I’ve seen Rich Internet Applications are in their infancy in the enterprise. Silverlight’s got an advantage there, of course, because of all the armies of VB and .Net developers who now have another tool at their disposal; it will be interesting to see what they build.

2 thoughts on “Rich Internet Applications

  1. Thanks for picking up on Laszlo. Many of Laszlo’s corporate customer are using OpenLaszlo for their consumer offerings:

    — Walmart.com uses OpenLaszlo on its homepage and each section landing page;

    — H&R Block also uses OpenLaszlo on its homepage, and also has built its next-gen tax preparation application (Tango) completely on OpenLaszlo. That app is quite complex and well-designed; it’s certainly among the most serious RIAs out there;

    — Monster.com‘s new job search application is built on OpenLaszlo;

    — Barclays  ishares.com) offers two different OpenLaszlo apps for its customers who are looking at the performance of its investment funds;

    — Not a “corporate customer”, but still a prominent Web brand: Pandora’s application is built on OpenLaszlo.

    There’s more where that came from, but that should give you an idea of the level of adoption behind OpenLaszlo.

    – David Temkin, CTO, Laszlo Systems

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