The Rich Client: The New Interface for the Next Generation of Distributed Computing

Companies originally moved to adopt standards-based technologies like those underlying the Web and the Internet as a way to achieve distributed computing functionality at a very low total cost of ownership. However, these companies had to forego many of the user interface and productivity advantages that other distributed computing methods, such as traditional client/server applications, used to give them. As a result, companies continue to struggle to address the issue of how to realize the benefits of rich clients in conjunction with the benefits of distributed, low-cost applications.

While companies have long delivered application functionality to Webbrowsers, users are now coming to expect increasingly greater interactivity from this presentation tier. They are demanding a set of rich user experience capabilities that include visual interactivity elements and instant access to information, interaction with distributed and remote applications, and integration with local desktop applications. Businesses today want to gain the operational and cost advantages of Internet and Web Services technologies, but don’t want the limitations that Web browsers impose on user interfaces.

To address these challenges, Macromedia introduces its Flex product aimed at providing rich client capabilities. Macromedia was one of the early pioneers in rich user interaction across the Internet. In 1997, they made a splash in the market with their Flash product, and as of the date of this report, over 98% of Web browsers and 500 million users are equipped with the Macromedia Flash player. Continuing this legacy, Macromedia has introduced its Flex product that leverages Flash to provide rich client capabilities over standards-based, loosely coupled distributed computing infrastructures.

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