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Rich Internet Applications: 2008 is the Year the RIA Category Accelerates

WebKit-based application from Ntractive unveiled this week at Macworld

Steve Borsch's "Connecting the Dots" Blog

If you don't know about the category of applications dubbed "hybrid" or "Rich Internet Applications" (RIAs) then you need to learn more since 2008 is the year this category accelerates. RIAs are functionally like desktop applications but arguably the most significant feature of them is the ability to interact with "the cloud" or computing that occurs with hosted applications on the Internet.

Though not explicitly an RIA-type application, the easiest way most people understand the category is to think about iTunes. This application is a desktop one enabling you to rip, manage, burn to CD or sync to iPod all of your music. But where it gets really interesting is when you're Internet-connected and you can buy music or videos, subscribe to podcasts, and download cover art. This hybrid nature is quite useful as Internet connections become ever faster, increasingly wireless and more ubiquitous.

The Minneapolis StarTribune had an article in the business section Friday morning showcasing a Grand Forks, ND startup, Ntractive, who will be launching Elements SBM at Macworld which opens Tuesday with a keynote by Steve Jobs.

Marketing Consultant Graeme Thickins of NewMediaWise contacted me to find out if I'd be interested in having co-founder Dale Jensen walk me through Elements SBM, which we did in early December. We met and I was stunned with the completeness of the application, how well thought out it was and that it looked great. The user interface was one that I saw any small to midsized business would have a staffer up-n-running on in an hour.

Ntractivescreen_2 Rather than re-create the great job they've done laying out their features and benefits, I'll instead suggest you go through the tabs on their site starting with Features. The application integrates very well with such Mac applications like iChat, iPhoto and, of course, connects to Ntractive's hosted service to leverage data storage and connection in a true software as a service (SaaS) fashion.

What I'll end with is my perspective about the brilliance of these two deciding on and engineering upon WebKit. There are competitive approaches and examples include: Adobe leveraging Flash and other standard technologies with their RIA container called "AIR" (Adobe Integrated Runtime); Microsoft with a browser plugin to deliver their RIA runtime Silverlight; as well as other projects to "hybridize" web applications like Google Gears and Mozilla Prism. WebKit, however, is a complete, self-contained application framework that is fully standards compliant and open source.

WebKit is the basis of Mac OS X's Safari web browser (now on both Mac and Windows). Though the horserace has just begun on who will win the dominant approach to creating and delivering RIAs, I'm experiencing my alpha geek friends staying neutral on which "RIA horse" to bet on (or keep coding using other approaches). Still, there is no question in my mind that choosing WebKit enables Ntractive to move faster and build higher level functionality than other approaches while leaving the framework horserace to the software stallions Adobe, Apple and Microsoft.


This post appeared originally here. Reprinted by kind permission of the author.


More Stories By Steve Borsch

Steve Borsch's 25+ years in business has been focused in high tech playing a variety of roles in sales, sales management, business development and strategy creation. He blogs at http://http://www.iconnectdots.com/.

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