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Which Client Will Dominate?

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I first got into the magical world of the internet in the happy 90's. Back then you could find 3 basic types of network application clients: Internet lightweight web sites (HTML, JS), installed applications with network connection like ICQ or Applets.

The years went by, the internet connection got faster, richer applications came out of the desktop and into the browser. The web applications clients became fatter. Even if the desktop applications still exist, they have clearly become a lot less common. That was about the time I started developing in Java.

The obvious solution for many of these fat clients were the Java web frameworks like Struts,  JSF and all the others. But when the years went by a new approach became more and more popular -  the Ajax web applications, with GMail in the lead.

Fat clients never looked better, the usability was excellent. It is almost as if we are using desktop applications (!?!). JavaScript was never so cool. Libraries like JQuery were born every day and also some new solutions like GWT make our life with JavaScript easier.

But the story doesn't end here. With the birth of the smart cellphones an old player came back to life - that's right, the installed application. The small screen and slow connection makes rich client web sites more difficult to handle. IPhone followed by Android and Blackberry, clearly encourage this approach with their application markets. So clearly installed applications are dominators in the mobile network applications arena.

But what's next? Are the mobile installed applications going to suffer the same fate as the desktop applications? Clearly the rise of HTML5 won't make their life easier. Or maybe the installed applications will survive with the help of technologies such as JavaFX. Maybe both will manage to have a share.

What do you think?

 From http://www.aviyehuda.com/


Published at DZone with permission of Avi Yehuda, author and DZone MVB.

(Note: Opinions expressed in this article and its replies are the opinions of their respective authors and not those of DZone, Inc.)



Dummy Akkount replied on Tue, 2010/11/30 - 9:37am

First, define "dominate". We all thought that Microsoft is going to dominate the client, but the fortunes have turned, right?

Desktop is "dead". Dead as in "there is no room for newcomers to make money". The result is that no new innovative development is happening there. In the last 5 years there are no new major apps for the desktop (with the exception of Skype). Everybody is just developing for web/cloud and mobile today.

Mobile: both native and HTML5 clients will exist. They have different characteristics (speed & ease of development vs features & UI richness) and target different types of apps.

Rich client: is there is future market for rich client (which I doubt) then Adobe will seize it. They already dominate the web with Flash. Air is available for desktop and some mobile platforms (more to come). Other platforms like silverlight (forget about JavaFX - it's a definition of vaporware) have no chance. Aside from technicalities (runtime features, docs, IDE support), the true Adobe advantage (which others have no chance of replicating) is in wast numbers of developers/designers that already know how to use their dev/design tools.

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