ZapThink: Enterprises warm up to Java-based Web apps

Rich Internet apps should see a wealth of new takers, according to a study. And Java technologies are helping shape the trend that has developers dabbling with RIA to maximize the performance of Web-based apps.

A report released by ZapThink this week analyzes the RIA environment, projecting an increasing demand for such Java, AJAX and Flash-based Web apps. While the market rests just under $100 million today, the report suggests by 2011 companies will invest more than $500 million on RIA. Analyst Ronald Schmelzer attributes the demand to a few sources.

“Users today increasingly demand more from their online user experience,” said Schmelzer, senior analyst, ZapThink. “The convergence of SOA and Web 2.0 are leading organizations to retire their static Web pages and inflexible portal applications. Today’s [users] set the bar for user interactivity higher than ever before, and expect their online experiences to behave more like desktop applications they are used to.”

Developers have found that old-school technologies like HTTP and HTML simply do not cut it. Limitations, sub-par performance and a lack of compatibility with both events-based and real-time apps has them turning to RIA. ZapThink experts cite six major biz apps that are encouraging enterprises to travel the avenue of RIA: high-transaction apps, event-driven apps, next generation portals, enhanced BI solutions, app modernization and “mashup” solutions.

“The most powerful of these RIAs will take advantage of standards-based service-oriented approaches to integrate all the content, communications and application interfaces it physically can,” says Schmelzer. “However, what is most important is that RIAs loosely couple presentation from application logic, allowing developers to change server-side logic without breaking the usability of their applications.”

And what else can RIA do for developers?

An RIA approach to Java and ActiveX VM-based apps allows developers to support a wider range of user interaction, continued support of existing dev skills, and more operating systems and device options for Java VMs; those taking an RIA approach with JavaScript can reduce tech requirements at both the server and client end, and support a longer list of systems; and, for custom-Java developers, stronger dev tools, expanded SOA services and fewer browser restrictions are at the developers’ disposal.

But limitations linger. An RIA approach can mean inconsistency with implementation among browsers and desktops, and the process could require Flash. Developers may also see restrictions to security and cookies settings.

The report also reveals that the Web-app enhancing widget is the fastest growing RIA submarket, largely because of their low cost and open-source options. ZapThink also notes that ActiveX and Java will likely increase its focus on niche apps, while Ajax and Flash-based approaches dominate larger RIA markets. The full report is available at ZapThink.

About the Author

Jason Turcotte is an assistant editor at Application Development Trends. He can be reached at [email protected].