[thelist] Rich Internet Applications

Hershel Robinson hershel at galleryrobinson.com
Mon Aug 14 08:54:51 CDT 2006

Regarding a new build of an internet business application, one issue we 
are dealing with is maintaining real-time data for our web consoles. To 
clarify, the users of the app are looking at data in their browser, and 
that data is subject to change. I want of course that when the data on 
the server changes, the browser is updated in real time.

There are several methods to achieve this. One is to constantly poll the 
server for changes using AJAX. One is to use a hidden Java applet which 
establishes a persistent connection to the server. This applet can then 
receive data updates in real time without polling the server.

Beyond those, there is a whole new world of RIA tools using Flash as a 
base to create desktop-like applications. Two of which I am aware are:

Adobe Flex: http://www.adobe.com/products/flex/

OpenLazlo: http://www.openlaszlo.org/ (from Laszlo Systems: 
http://www.laszlosystems.com/ )

I had examined Flex a half a year ago or so and it didn't seem 
production-ready at that point. The reviews I am seeing now, however, 
are generally positive and indicate that it may be ready.

There was also a video I saw 6 months ago which showed a demonstration 
using Flex whereby a Flex app (a web page, that is) and Microsoft Excel 
(open on someone's desktop) were both bound to the same data source and 
updates to either app were reflected (the data was updated accordingly) 
in the other app in real time (a small communications delay not 
withstanding). That video appears no longer to be available, but a 
discussion of this technology appears to be here:


This is the type of real-time data updating I need and it would appear 
that Flex has the advantage of a rich set of application-building 
features. The app I am building is for internal use only, so requiring 
specific technology like Flash 9 is no problem.

Anyhow as I begin to investigate this technologies further, are there 
any comments anyone has to share regarding these tools? Any experience 
or reviews or anything else that might prove helpful?


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