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The State of Flex Rich Internet Application – Part II

Posted by Charles | August 21, 2006 .

To continue finding the fit for Flex in the RIA space, we should look beyond bolts and nuts on rich UI or nice guts. The pair by pair approach goes on.

Widget vs Application

There is a widget war going on. Flex is a nature strong contender but a bit behind.

The fundamental shifting or swing between widget and application is coming from the tug-a-war between traditional enterprise application generated or purchased by IT organization (Oracle, SAP, etc) and SaaS (Software as a service) service subscribed from service providers, such as Saleforce or 37signals services. SOA (service oriented architecture) vs application stack is another major playground for the new computing architecture build-up.

Besides, the proliferation of web service APIs are providing fuel to drive the service oriented web at fast pace. All the web giants offer full stack web APIs to developers., Google API, Yahoo API, Microsoft Live API, Amazon Web Service (AWS) and eBay API, to name a few. At service consumer side, they are getting busy too. Yahoo released Yahoo Widget Engine earlier this year. Google added widget on both web and Google Desktop. Microsoft Vista will be widget rich like hell. Lucky Mac people have enjoyed Mac Dashboard and its widget for a while. I’ll go further on this at the mesh-up vs ground-up post. In the mean while, widget is reaching to every corner, WordPress gets Widget Plugin, as an example.

Where is the Flex in the play?

Traditionally, Flash is the king of media widget of the web. It still is! Imagine those flashing animate Flash evolve to Flex widgets that consume the rich web services around the web. And because it’s Flash, it can be deployed to any web environment, no mater it’s blog sites, CM sites, social network sites or business sites.

A widget is significantly different from a application at:

  • A widget does one thing with VERY simple and RICH user interface, and it works with very limit user intervention. Flash shines here.
  • A widget requires a widget engine to run it. The widget engine does the low level plumbing. Widget developers only need focus on developing what the widget does, and then just deploy it. Flash naturally has it in 90% of the browsers, the Flash plugin.
  • A widget engine should have free, feature rich and reliable API. Flex framework is free, isn’t it.

Flex is fully ready for the widget world. Flex developers should be pushing forward.

Stay tune…

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