Wednesday, April 18, 2007

"RIA degradation"? whats all that fuzz about?

Over the last few days, I've been noticing (am sure that I'm not the only one) a lot of 'bashing' between adobe and microsoft enthusiasts; Last time, one such 'discussions' went to the level getting to personal bashing. Today, there is a new 'discussion' happening out there. About microsoft's SilverLight and Adobe Flash, and other related stuffs, and of course, which term was first to be created: Rich Internet Apps or Rich Interactive Apps.

I thought I should note down my personal take on these kind of discussions.

IMHO, by fueling these kind of discussions, adobe employees are gonna do no good to Flash. They are only gonna make things easier for MS people out there, to popularize their 'silverlight' among developers. Here why is why I think so:

As someone in today's discussions pointed out, Microsoft wouldn't have to struggle much in getting their plugin to windows users; Many techies will download it, just for the heck of it; and for those who don't, there is always the windows update. If a corporate user had to update his flash player to the latest version, chances of getting his system-admin do it for him is not very high. But an update from Microsoft, they'll readily apply that patch. Add a few 'security bug fixes' and call it a security update, and home users will download it right away. Apple users are always ready for heavy updates; Who knows, Microsoft might even get Apple to agree to include it with their updates ;o). Linux users always had problems. They never had Flash player 8! (And if they are desperate, they always have Wine at their disposal!)

So making people download their plugin wouldn't really be a big deal for Microsoft. What would be tough for them is to get developers to start building apps for their plugin. Flash / Flex developers are their easiest target. Getting a .Net developer to understand the 'timeline' would be much tougher than getting a AS developer to learn some C#, If you guys have seen C# code, you know what I mean. Now, with all these crazy discussions, the flash siders are indirectly getting more and more developers educated about their rival technology. Quiet a lot of developers would go check it out, just because if these discussions.

I like flash for what it is today. And I feel Flash is the best at doing what it does. But as I say it, my consciousness pricks me: This "Flash is the best" feeling comes to me, because I've known Flash and actionscript longer than I've known my best friend! I heard about WPF/E like what - last year? I've never really developed anything using it. So I can't really say, can I? May be WPF/E is better? Is that why all these Flash supporters are paranoid over things tiny things like, "MS is trying to spoil the real meaning of RIA" etc? You guys end up creating a doubt in my mind!!

Honestly, if someday I learn that sparklight is the best for something that I'm trying to do, I'll go ahead and attempt it. And if some other technology feels suitable, I'd use that, of course. There was a period when I was a die-hard macromedia fan. And back then, Adobe was our villain. I used to evangelize about macromedia products to my collegues and friends. I even successfully made a few of my designers use Fireworks, over their beloved PhotoShop. And then one fine morning, Adobe and macromedia joined hands! Thats when I realized, all these brand bashing is so silly; All that evangelism I did for fireworks went for nothing!

As I look back, if it was microsoft which had bought macromedia, we would've all ended up being in one happy family! Microsoft would've probably announced next version of Flash and Dreamweaver integrated into next version of Visual Studio. Who knows, Macromedia would've taken its cross-platform culture into microsoft, and there would've been a .Net runtime for all major OS platforms by now! May be, Freehand and Flashpaper would've still existed! ( I'm getting to like this imaginary part now, LoL!)

So, I don't really see a reason why all this bashing must happen between these two companies. Isn't there a way we can all co-exist? Let Microsoft-ers call their apps Rich Interactive apps. Lets call ours Rich Internet Apps. And if you feel your technology is not as good as the others', get back to the drawing board and get us more features. We developers will happily buy your products and use them!

All that said, I feel the name 'silverlight' is just a lame copy of 'Flash'. Couldn't they come up with an original name!!

And I don't mean disrespect to any of you guys out there. You are all my heros, after all! I gotta go catch some sleep now. Its 4:20AM in this part of the world!


Abdul said...


Nice article...

Personally, I pickup a technology that solves the (users/development) problem and provides the best experience.

I started writing .Net code since it's first beta (back in 2000). I like C# and it's nice...I have written many tools for productivity and automation at work.. MS also gives free tools..

However, I love ActionScript/FlashPlayer...There are many reasons...

The day Microsoft manages to convince flash/flex devs, that would be the turning point...


Pablo_aSH said...

I think that discuss about this acronym is important... it's not just "words"... It's legimate to raise concern about it. Just my two cents!

Pablo_aSH said...

As Forrester Research targets: "Forrester focuses on the business implications of technology change. Uniquely, Forrester guides marketing executives, business strategists, and IT professionals to create a unified technology plan that gains business advantage."

That unified technology plan is important!

Unknown said...

Good post Arul, I'm not completely comfortable with the way the discussion is going these days.

I do agree with JD that its not in the best interest of anyone to start giving a different meaning to the acronym RIA.

Rich Internet Applications vs. Rich Interactive Applications -- its just semantics with little or no differentiation. Why the need to blur the definition.

Think companies should keep in mind that their technology should be user-centric and not market-share centric.

I'm not against competition but the waste of energy that goes into the marketing hype and creating antagonism is astounding.

Anonymous said...

Yes, the trolling does confuse things, but what do you think of that systematic attempt to change what people mean when they say "RIA"?

(Maybe a parallel would help: what would you think if a business starting trying to promote the message "'WWW' means 'World Wild Web'" or such? I know people argue lots over what "opensource" and "accessibility" mean, so it would be significant if there was a sudden unacknowledged commercial effort to change those terms. Does this help?)


Arul said...

I perfectly agree with you all.

My point was that, there would be many developers, who could never relate 'Rich Interactive Applications' in a sentence to RIAs. To us, RIAs mean Rich Internet Apps. And thats how it was before we read JD's posts. Not anymore. We'll start to think twice everytime we see RIA now. We've never really been a visitor to microsoft blogs, but after today, We read a few. We read abt someone saying tat sparklight can "compile" ( or interpret) code at runtime, and We feel this urge to try it out. We get all these vibes all because of that discussion.

I guess MS guys are just waiting for someone to start off a discussion like tat so tat they can just barge in, and write a set of features tat they got, and flash doesn't. Who wins?

Anonymous said...

I'm bored of the online pissing matches/slap fights over these technologies. The JD/Scott Barnes match ups are ok but they never get past the 'two guys sticking their chests out' part of the argument.

I really don't care how many Silverlight plugins are downloaded (forced or otherwise). The thought that devs and designers are just going to up and run to the otherside just isn't realistic. Adobe and Microsoft get new users everyday. The difference is Adobe has a product out there to buy. Microsoft doesn't. I'd say the adoption is pretty one sided at this point. Heck, look at the Zune. There are a bajillion iPods out there. How many people traded out their iPod for a Zune? Not many. I think that will prolly be the case with RIA development as well.

I'm not knocking Silverlight, I've been a C# dev for six years. I'm excited to have another tool in my skillset but I'm not going to just gratuatisly use Silverlight just because its new. It would seriously have to give me an incentive to do something I could not do in Flash/Flex or Apollo.

Its 'Put Up or Shut Up' time.