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Rich Internet Application Technology Comparison: AJAX, Flash, Silverlight

What needs to be considered when developing RIAs?

Today, RIA technology is widely used, also referred to as Rich Internet Clients (RICs). RICs provide the usability, responsiveness, and reuse of client/server applications with the deployment, manageability, and availability of a traditional Web application. Many websites are using DHTML and AJAX technology in HTML pages. Another very popular technology is Flash. How about Silverlight, though?

The developers behind Dot Net Outsource, the leading Chinese provider of global outsourcing services, specialize in in both "Web-based" and Client-Server technologies on the Microsoft .NET platform. Here they look at Silverlight and compare it, for their particular needs, with DHTML/AJAX and Flash.

RIAs offer the flexibility and ease of use of an intelligent desktop application, and add the broad reach of traditional web applications with an entirely new kind of web experience that is engaging, interactive, lightweight, and flexible.

DHTML and AJAX

We used DHTML and AJAX technology in HTML pages in some of our .NET outsourced projects. However, we encountered problems of browser incompatibility. (For example, DOM is quite different in IE and in Safari.)

Although it is possible to make this kind of web application work in all browsers, it will take the developer much time and it is very difficult to maintain when the browsers update.

Flash

Another very popular technology is Flash, it doesn’t have any browsers compatibility problems, but it’s very hard to integrate with .NET. Integrating Flash demands that .NET developers make a special effort, and since our specialty is .NET software outsourcing, Flash is not the best choice for us.


Silverlight 

Silverlight is a cross browser technology, so there's no browser compatibility problem. Plus it integrates with .NET very well, so it is easier to use and develop.  Silverlight does not have controls at present, but in version 2.0, many controls will be released for Web designers. Those controls will make Web development easier and faster. 

Based on the features supported by Silverlight (see our chart below) more web page elements and properties can be controlled than DHTML&AJAX. Silverlight also offers a good user experiences.

Item
DHTML & AJAX
FLASH
Silverlight
User Experience
Normal
Very Good
Very Good
Browser Compatibility
Hard to support and maintain
IE, Firefox, Safari, etc. Popular Browsers
IE, Firefox, Safari, etc.
Popular Browsers
Popularity
N/A
High
Normal(New)
Version
N/A
Normal, version 9.0
New Tech, version 1.1
Study Efforts
Normal
Normal
Normal
Ease of Use
Easy (If do not consider compatibility)
Normal
Normal
Integration with .NET
Easy
Hard
Easy
Network Performance
High
Normal
High
Client Performance
Some Code - High
Most Code - Low
High
High
Designer Tools
Use CSS
Flash CS3
PhotoShop CS3
Blend,
Expression Designer

Sample Silverlight sites:

Silverlight official home page: www.silverlight.net

ComponentOne silverlight controls page: http://labs.componentone.com/sapphire

Infragistics silverlight controls page: http://labs.infragistics.com/silverlight/


Source: http://www.dotnetoutsource.com/

More Stories By Judy Lee

DotNetOutsource (DNO) is the leading Chinese provider of global outsourcing services, specializing in both Web-based and Client-Server technologies on the Microsoft .NET platform.
The company is based in China?s fourth municipality, Chongqing, in west China.

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