Do We Really Need Rich-Interface Technologies?

mobdescriptiveSoftware and s/w Development

Oct 28, 2013 (3 years and 11 months ago)

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Do We Really Need Rich
-
Interface
Technologies?

Yifan

Zhang

yz2365@columbia.edu

Two assumptions


1. RIA (Rich Interface Application):
a web
application that has many of the
characteristics of desktop application,
typically delivered by way of a site
-
specific
browser


2. RIA technologies with multimedia feature,
such as Flex, Java and
Silverlight

:They involve
lots of user interface designs and complex
video, audio and dynamic graphics applications


Actually, RIA technologies include AJAX and
RIA technologies with multimedia feature.

RIA is needed

RIA downloads the whole application at once instead
of repeatedly transmitting web pages.


As a result, user can expect to accomplish things by
getting data downloaded before, which saves the time
of surfing across multiple pages. This is the major
advantage of RIA


Case studies: Gmail
vs

Cubmail

When we click a message in
Cubmail
, we must wait about one second
for the server to respond, while it takes no time in Gmail when we
perform the same operation, just like opening a folder in a local PC.



The reason why it acts like this is because Gmail uses RIA technology
while
Cubmail

uses the traditional thin client technology

Figure

1:

Gmail VS
Cubmail

AJAX
vs

Flex

AJAX is not a single new technology, but a combination of
standard technologies including JavaScript, XML, XSLT and
DOM which together achieve web application richness.


When updating the web pages, the JavaScript program will
enter the data into the new page without requesting data again
from the server. This is because the data is already achieved
from the server in the backend through
XMLHttpRequest
.


Figure 2:

AJAX Architecture [1]

AJAX
vs

Flex

Flex is based on Flash and runs on Adobe Flash Player.

Its basic framework is like this:

1. Compile source code written in MXML,
ActionScript

and Flex
library and generate SWF files

2. Embed the SWF files from the first step into JSP files or HTML files

3. Deploy the JSP files or HTML files in the server

4. Use Flash Player to run the SWF files when browsing the pages.




Figure 3: Typical Flash
-
based RIA Architecture [1
]

Advantage of AJAX

It’s easy for rookies to learn AJAX and the popularizing rate of it is
very high. There are many resources online. Many blogs and forums
can lead to the way to master AJAX.


This can be concluded from the amount of results when searching the
key words of both technologies in Google (Table 1).

Table 1: The amount of results of keyword of AJAX and Flex







Keyword

Amount

of

Results

in

Google

AJAX

141
,
000
,
000

Flex

98
,
900
,
000

JavaScript

758
,
000
,
000

ActionScript

18
,
900
,
000

HTML

14
,
210
,
000
,
000

MXML

5
,
940
,
000

TIBCO

5
,
360
,
000

LAZLO

5
,
220
,
000




From the table, we can see that the results of keywords relevant to AJAX
(“AJAX”, JavaScript, HTML and TIBCO) are obviously much more than
the keywords of Flex (“Flex”, “
ActionScript
”, “MXML” and “LAZLO”).







Disadvantage of AJAX


The developer must maintain the consistency on different environment. Here is a simple
example to determine the environment (not all the environment, just a few).



Example: The way to determine the environment in JavaScript

//create a Boolean variable and use it to indicate if the browser is IE

var

xmlreq

= false;

//check if the browser is IE

try {


//if the version of JavaScript is larger than 5


xmlreq

= new
ActiveXObject
("Msxml2.XMLHTTP");


} catch (e1) {


// if no, use older version ActiveX object to check


try {


xmlreq

= new
ActiveXObject
("
Microsoft.XMLHTTP
");


} catch (e2) {


// otherwise the browser is not IE



xmlreq
=false;


}


}

}

//if browser is not IE

if(!
xmlreq

&&
typeof

XMLHttpRequest
!='undefined'){



xmlreq
=new
XMLHttpRequest
();

}

It can be concluded that it’s not easy to determine the environment of JavaScript, because the
version of JavaScript and the type of Browser must be taken into account. It’s really
inconvenient for a rookie to handle this.
















Advantage and disadvantage of Flex


Advantage: In general, from the aspect of multimedia, Flex performs
better than AJAX. It supports vector diagram, HD, video and audio.

For example,
Immersive Media

is the world leader and only end
-
to
-
end provider of 360
°
, full motion, and interactive video.



Disadvantage: T
he object code of Flex is really large.

The
simplest application may cost hundreds of kilobytes





Conclusion for AJAX and Flex





If you want to implement Web Style UI (mostly

plaint text)
, please

use AJAX. and don’t even think a bit about Flex (which is an example
of RIA technologies with multimedia feature). However, if you want to
challenge the limits of UI which combines video, audio and dynamic
graphics together, Flex can present magic results.




Figure 4: Modification of angle in Immersive Media video









Conclusion


In conclusion, the advantage of RIA (briefly speaking, requesting data in
advance) has been proved in the past few years.


Many companies have devoted to studying the implementation RIA (for
example, Google Gear of
Goolge

and
Silverlight

of Microsoft).



However, it doesn’t mean it is the beginning of disappearance of JavaScript,
HTML and CSS.


In fact, nowadays the most popular RIA technology is AJAX which exactly
combines JavaScript, HTML, and CSS and so on together. It’s easy to learn
(rich learning resource), easy to implement (small single web page) and easy
to use (simple web applications).


But RIA technologies with multimedia feature such as Flex leads the way in
its own proficiency. We can use these technologies to change web pages into
web or desktop applications. These technologies is worth exploring and
advertising because of its own specialty.





[1] Tom Noda, Shawn
Helwig
,

Rich Internet Applications, www.uwebc.org/opinionpapers, November
16, 2005


Reference



Thank you !!