Posts Tagged ‘RIA’

User Interface Design Patterns.

Friday, May 14th, 2010

Building Rich Internet Applications – RIAs takes a lot more skills than building a standard website.

With the constant advances in technology, the possibilities of creating powerful applications expands every day. This is wonderful for the developers, but not necessarily always fun for the users. If the user interface design development is not following, the user might have more power, but a lot harder to use applications and in the end need will spend more energy and be more frustrated using the applications.

Thus, as usual, with greater power, comes greater responsibility.

There is a need to better understand and improve the way we design our Rich Internet Applications. I found this great article, that describes Rich Internet Application Screen Design and gives a good idea of some of the challenges when designing the user interface of a RIA.

But more fundamentally speaking, we need to change our mindset and start thinking about generalizing the user interface design. One idea is to create User Interface design patterns, where we can formally analyze specific user interface parts and measure their efficiency and ease of use. Sites with user interface design patterns are being born every day and here is a good example of that: ui-patterns – a collection of user interface design patterns. Very interesting indeed.

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Rich Internet Applications – HTML or plugins

Sunday, May 2nd, 2010

At present timer there is pretty much two ways to create Rich Internet Applications on the Internet. Either you use HTML (and CSS, JavaScript, AJAX, etc.) or you use a plugin (Flash, Silverlight, etc.). HTML5 is not supported well enough cross the browsers to be a viable solution for now and Silverlight doesn’t have the same browser penetration as the Flash player, so it is pretty much down to the battle between Flash (Flex) or AJAX.

On a daily basis I mainly use Flex to develop our Rich Internet Applications (RIAs), but the tools for building RIAs with AJAX have become much more stable and cross browser supported. And with big companies behind things like GWT from Google and YUI from Yahoo, it is now perfectly possible to build stable RIA solutions with AJAX. As Google (among others) have proven for years of course.

Lately I have been attracted to the Vaadin framework. With Vaadin it is possible to build RIAs without writing a single line of Javascript (or ActionScript) code. All code is written in Java and all HTML, Javascript and AJAX is generated automatically. Vaadin uses the GWT for the frontend and thus relies on AJAX as the RIA solution. Furthermore Vaadin comes with a lot of useful common widgets, that can be easily integrated into your project and it is pretty straightforward to build your own reusable widgets.

Coming from a Java background I find Vaadin interesting and have started to build a small application to try the technology. But instead of building a little example application, I want to build a real working application and do it “the right way”, using the familiar technologies: Spring, Hibernate, etc. and using a proper MVC structure to make a proper separation of concerns in the frontend.

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