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RIA Products Roundup

Posted by Moxie Zhang | December 21, 2005 .

I think it’s wise to keep eyes wide open on the RIA marketplace in the whole, while advocating our beloved Flex for now. Here I’m trying to round up some, if not all, of the IRA productions, tools, technologies, etc. Again, I’m trying. And later, give some reviews to those items on the list.

Want to share your experiences of using these products? Why not let me know so that I’ll setup to let you contribute to Flex888.

I’m trying to categorize them in a make-sense way, but open to any suggestion. Also, please drop me a line if you find some exciting new RIA items, I’m sure you will! I’ll try to keep this list alive.

updated: 01/09/2006

Categories RIA Items Comments
Technologies Flash/Flex/Central XML UI tagging, ActionScript, Flash render engine. Go Flex, go!
  ActiveX Windows application. And I’m sure you know the rest.
  Java Applet This is the grandfather of all RIA! Most of us gave it up. But there are some RIA products are trying to revive it. Check out the later items on this list.
  AJAX/DHMTL/XHTML AJAX is stealing the term RIA these days. Wish there won’t be a ‘=’ between them.
  XAML If something can make MXML going down to the Netscape path, that will be this guy. If I were you, I’ll watch it very carefully.
  JSP/JSF/Facelet SUN and some Java opensource community are still struggling to come up some appealing UI piece into the J2EE arena. Nothing really exciting so far.
  XUL XML UI Tagging. XUL (pronounced "zool") is an XML-based UI language from the Mozilla open source project. It is used to create forms applications that run in the Mozilla browser as well as in other rendering engines such as Zulu (a Flash MX component) and Thinlets (a Java implementation). XUL’s big advantages are its integration with the Gecko engine (opening access to a huge array of Web standards). I think XUL had made to W3C standard track. Do like to hear some comments from Macromedia about this.
  SVG XML Tagging, W3C standard. So far none adapt it to be part a RIA solution. People talk about Microsoft should use or extend this than starting a brand new XAML. So far, it’s sill stuck in web graphic area.
Oracle Forms /

XML Tagging, and whole Oracle development environment.
Framework Cairngorm framework A Iteration::two’s opensource framework. The most well known in Flex community. Not sure if Macromedia will officially endorse it or not, considering Macromedia bought I::2.
  Arp Framework A almost-twin of Cairngorm. Seems more active than Cairngorm these days. Will watch it very closely.
  As2lib Framework It originated for Flash 2004. Not sure any Flexer use it or not.
  ActionStep Application Kit An application kit that I’m not sure it will go anywhere further. But worth a study.
  SynergyFLEX SynergyFLEX is an application development framework based on the Mach-II Coldfusion Framework.
  LPS4Biz Framework RIA forOFBiz using Laszlo presentation Server. It’s hosted on and really is for OFBiz (Open for Business). OFBiz is whole another big story. I’ll leave it up to your own curiosity.
  Macromedia FAST Not really a framework. It’s nice toolkit to get you going quickly on your Flex project. The utility such the Echo console comes very handy for debugging.
Flash Based Xamlon Compiles WinForm(C# and VB) application into Flash.
  Neoswiff Compiles WinForm(C#) application into Flash. I’ll stay away from these two compilers. If you believe Flash, try Flex. If you love Windows, wait for XAML.
  Zulu It’s XUL rendering engine. The output is Flash.
AJAX JackBe XML Tagging. An AJAX development environment plus API, etc.
  Bindows Anther AJAX gold rusher. API, etc. the usual stuffs.
  Backbase XML Tagging. This is a very elaborated AJAX development package. I certainly will spend some time evaluate it. Its rendering engine is javascript, BPC, Backbase Presentation Client. The UI is composed using BXML, a XML tagging system. They have both .Net server and J2EE server. One interesting observation, the Backbase web site seems very Flash rich:-)
  WebORB (used to be FlashORB) This is a very interesting one. It used to be alternative of Flash Remoting. Now it’s all over AJAX too. It has Javascript AJAX client and Flash AJAX client, go figure. Plus, there are all the big name technologies, .Net, Java, Web Service, to name a few.
An opensource AJAX framework that has Java doing the server side stuffs.
Open Source (or free) PHP/SWF Charts Why not give your LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP) site some Flash chart?
  Open Laszlo Most of Flex guys know about this piece. Even though I’m not so sure about Laszlo’s future, I do wish this one can survive. I’ll use it for some public site developments. Who can beat its free.
  Thinlets A thin Java UI rendering engine that uses XUL. Of cause it’s applet.
  MTASC Compiler is something really hard to develop. A open source one certainly worth some encourages. Haven’t found case to use it though.
J2EE UI Canoo UltraListClient Very serious Java based RIA product. They claim their products are something beyond AJAX (somehow AJAX is the RIA reference point now, uha..). It’s Java. The Canoo application requires Java Web Start to deploy it (or download it). Very nice stuffs.
  JWay xuiframework It’s java applet based RIA tool and library.
  Asperon Claim stronger than AJAX (man!). It’s Java applet engine with all the XML goody.
A RIA solution for Java Swing.
  Nexaweb IRA Framework Another Java Applet solution for rich client.

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6 Comments so far
  1. Keith Peters  December 21, 2005 7:15 am

    WebOrb is a Flash Remoting alternative, never had to do with Flash Communication server. I don’t see that it has any connection to AJAX either.

  2. Flexguy  December 21, 2005 11:26 am

    My bad. It’s always Flash Remoting. But they do have javascript AJAX client and Flash AJAX cleint. The later one is a very interesting combination though.

  3. Steven Webster  December 21, 2005 4:29 pm

    Hi there … the support of Cairngorm is independant of the Macromedia acquisition of iteration::two, and the subsequent acqusition by Adobe. There is now a core-team of Adobe Consultants who are consulting on Flex, Adobe engineers who are building Flex, and Adobe customers who have bet their business on Flex, who are the core of the Cairngorm committee. The project is very much alive, and indeed stable … expect the next major release to coincide with Flex 2.0, leveraging ActionScript 3.0, the new additions to the Flex framework, and Flex Enterprise Services. We’re obviously a little more tightly integrated with the various product teams, such as Flex Builder, so who knows what we’ll be able to achieve… 😉

    Don’t look for any official stamp of approval by Adobe on Cairngorm as such; it’s a great RIA framework, but even within Adobe it won’t be used by all consultants on all projects all of the time. So; it will continue to receive the open-source contributions based on real-world experience of consulting on Flex projects. I guess the key takeaway is that now we’re Adobe Consulting, the experience that will make it into Cairngorm will be even broader and wider and deeper than before, which is a great thing for the community.

    Expect more noise from us in the weeks ahead.

    Best wishes,


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