Category: Rich Internet Applications (RIA)

Google Re-think the Operating System

By Dave Haygarth   July 8, 2009  
With many of us spending an increasing amount of our work lives "in the cloud" using web sites that actually do stuff - or "web applications" as they have become known (think Hotmail, Gmail, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc) it was inevitable that the operating systems we know and love/hate (Mac OS, Windows) would become less and less important. I've said it before, that once software developers can really control their software, reduced costs come through having total control over updates and distribution, and, more importantly software piracy: software becomes a utility, just like water, gas and electricity: centrally controlled with metered usage or subscription payments. Well, as has been expected for a while, Google have made their move: squaring up to the dominant Microsoft and Apple, and typical of Google "re-thinking the OS". However, as with most Google stuff it's free and funding will be coming to them via web advertising: the web is the platform; the OS is just the "chrome" around the edges (hence the name) and will be minimal. Based on their recently launched browser, Chrome, and leveraging the ever-developing Linux system, coupled with their ever-growing list of web applications (Google Mail, Google Docs, Google Calendar) they are pitching this first at the cheap and cheerful Netbook market. Knowing Google, they won't get it right first time, maybe not even second, third or fourth. But perhaps they will nibble away and erode the markets dominated by a few key players, just like they have with Google Mail (against Hosted MS Exchange) and are attempting to also do with Android (against Windows Mobile and iPhone) More here: Official Google Announcement Lifehacker Wired Gizmodo

New Business Models: Interview with Wired’s Chris Anderson

By Dave Haygarth   July 6, 2009  
Chris Anderson of Wired magazine coined the term "the long tail" to describe the Amazon-like business model where every possible niche product is available - due mainly to the rise of the Web. More recently he has been discussing "freemium" business models - where companies offer a free product and look to turn a proportion of their customers into paying customers (Flickr for example) Interesting interview which gives some high-level explanations to his thoughts...

Google Announce Improved Flash Indexing

By Dave Haygarth   July 6, 2008  
Most SEOs will tell you that if your site is built in Flash it will essentially be invisible to Google (and most other search engines).Thats about to change as Google has announced improved indexing of Flash-based content.However, as e-Consultancy quite rightly point out, designers should not see this as a reason to build websites totally from Flash: Google still cannot use the tag structure as it can with HTML to work out the importance of keywords through their use in titles, headings and links, so Flash should still be used sparingly.Also, designers often create Flash-based sites that "re-invent the wheel" when it comes to user interface design, often making sites difficult to use and usually in-accessible to those with disabilities. You also often cannot link to a page within a Flash site as they are all essentially part of the same page.Advanced Javascript and CSS effects can often help create a feature-rich interface without the need for Flash, but Flash does still have it's place in certain areas of presentation, not least in streaming video where it is now the most popular format (as seen on YouTube).

Great New Web(2.0)mail

By Dave Haygarth   February 2, 2008  
If you have a few email accounts and would like to be able to access them on the go, then I can recommend GMX -- the rich Web 2.0 interface is so similar to using Windows (Outlook) and you can set it up easily to collect emails from a number of POP accounts, as well as Yahoo, Hotmail and GoogleMail.Its a great example of what people are calling Rich Internet Applications (RIA) which aim to eventually replace desktop applications, and also shows what is possible using "Web 2.0" technology such as

Rich Internet Apps to Replace Desktop Software?

By Dave Haygarth   September 25, 2007  
It's amazing what some companies are managing to do with the web browser. These applications exhibit some of the latest techniques in what is being termed "rich internet application" development (or RIA for short). AKA "Web 2.0", RIA is a combination of technologies that improve the user experience, making web applications behave more like Windows/Mac ones. Microsoft are getting worried. Their own offering is Office Live, which has been suspiciously quiet for a while now. I am sure they are not yet panicking as these are still somewhat embryonic, and with the prevalence of powerful PCs, I'm not sure people will be ready to switch just yet. They do, of course, also rely on a permanent Internet connection: not something that can always be guaranteed.Here's a quick round-up of what we've found available or in beta right now:Office ToolsGoogle Docs Web browser-based set of basic office tools - word processor, spreadsheet, presentation. Also Google Calendar for time planning. Free or paid versions.Zoho Office In my view, a lot more advanced than Google's offering. Also has a lot more components One that Microsoft should keep an eye on (or buy?!)ThinkFree Looking very similar to Microsoft Office, and popular with reviewers, this is well worth a look.Zimbra Yahoo entered the "online office apps" race last week (sept 07) when it acquired them for $350 Million. Initially an alternative to Microsoft Exchange, it has grown into a full suite of office tools.A review of some of the above office tools can be seen here.Operating SystemsThese are all similar in mimicking Windows or Mac all within a browser window. Right now they are fun, but whether they could really take on real operating systems remains to be seen...however we know how fast the computing world moves, so don't rule it out!Ajax Windows Ajax13 also have a suite of office tools. Their OS looks like Windows but unfortunately is not as smooth to use. Its very clunky and slow right now.YouOS Nowhere near as slick as Ajaxwindows. Similar concept.EyeOS This looks the slickest so far, and seems a lot more complete than the others. More of a Mac-like interface.