Rich Internet Applications Empower Enterprises in Recessionary Times

In these times it is difficult to think about embarking on any new project, let alone contemplating spending a dime on outside resources when cost-cutting measures are abound in your organization. The Hackett Group cautions that inappropriate cutbacks without consideration for the long-term ramifications may be detrimental to the overall health and/or competitive position of a company when the economy recovers. A better approach might be to accelerate the activities that can deliver a positive return within six to nine months. Technologies that streamline and modernize business processes, improve worker productivity and enable smarter decision-making within this window of opportunity appear to be gaining considerable traction with enterprises of all sizes even in recessionary times.

Rich Internet Applications (RIAs) by their very nature are interactive, individualized, social, visual, multi-modal and very responsive – the drivers of streamlined processes and communication. Include RIA analytics with customizable, self-updating dashboards and interactive scorecards and you have a system that enables your company to navigate its various business challenges with real-time data visualized in a manner that is meaningful and actionable. While RIA adoption is growing rapidly, there is a rather steep learning curve in getting started. Enterprises that tap the knowledge and resources of experts in this field can quickly overcome this learning curve and be well on their way to saving and making money within a relatively short period of time. This article provides information on what to consider at each phase in an RIA project so that there are no surprises on launch day.

RIA Project Considerations

Understanding the questions that arise in the different RIA project phases can help you avoid problems when you deploy your application into production. The RIA process can be broken down into six major phases: (1) Planning, (2) Design and User Experience, (3) Development, (4) Testing, (5) Runtime and (6) Analytics and Optimization.

RIA Planning

Planning is typically an internal process that involves defining a problem and then exploring potential solutions or approaches to solving the problem. In the RIA world, solution-providers are often brought into the planning process to help develop requirements or provide guidance on a software approach or architecture. Like a patient seeking a good doctor, finding a solid RIA solution provider that understands the intricacies of RIA development, including integration is paramount to the success of any RIA. Bringing a solid solution provider into the planning process will serve to minimize development errors and deployment failures.

RIA Design and User Experience

One of the keys to deploying a successful RIA is ensuring the User Interface (UI) design provides a satisfying user experience. Studies show that 72% of all software applications fail for various reasons, but the most predominant reason is lack of User Input. Don’t scrimp on the User Experience aspect of your RIA.

RIA Development

You have decided on the client-side technology (Flex, Flash, Ajax or Silverlight) at this point and you may be well on your way to creating a proof of concept using one of many development platforms used to integrate a client to a server environment (.NET, Java, PHP, Cold Fusion, Ruby on Rails). What makes one solution better than another? The answer to this really depends upon the robustness and feature-set of your application, your preferred server environment, your budget, and how you need to maintain and support your application. Will the development platform you pick support only a subset of your application features or is the solution multi-functional, supporting both development and run-time features, such as code generation, streaming media, and synchronization of client-to-client, client-to server and server-to-server communications? Will the solution support connectivity from your client-side to your preferred server environment even when that environment is heterogenous? Should you go with AMF remoting or Web Services? It is important to choose an RIA integration solution that will scale to meet the performance your business expects from the application.

RIA Testing

Quality assurance testing is mandatory for most application development efforts and historically there have been good software testing tools available that to augment any QA test plan. Understanding which solutions will adequately debug and test your RIA is an important part of having a successful QA outcome. You’ll find that testing a rich, dynamic and interactive application has many more considerations than that of a static HTML web client. Fortunately, there are tools available to address RIA QA needs on both the client-side and server-side. Some things to consider when choosing testing solutions include: supported platforms, browsers, client-side technologies, operating systems, protocols and server environment(s). It is very important to choose a solution that supports testing RIAs. Most traditional test solutions do not adequately test RIAs.

RIA Runtime (Production)

The next step is to launch the application into production. Depending upon how critical the application is to your business operations, you’ll want to consider how you will support your application for either your internal or external customers. Does the solution provider you have chosen provide commercial support? Will your application scale and is it guaranteed to perform? If third party components have been included in your application, will they be supported if there is ever a problem?

RIA Analytics and Optimization

When you get to this point, if not sometime before, you will want to gather some intelligence about your RIA and possibly the people using it. A solution that captures RIA analytics and visualizes the data in a meaningful way is what is needed. You’ll want to know how people are interacting with the application. Where are they spending their time in the application? Where are they are getting stuck? How are they navigating the application? Where do they drop out? Where could some optimizations be made? What information is accessed or entered? How does the information impact business operations? Where are business opportunities and/or risks? Is the information gathered meaningful and actionable?

There are many web analytics solutions, but whether or not these solutions adequately address the unique features of an RIA and produce information in a meaningful and actionable manner is a question one should ask. Can traditional web analytics solutions capture dynamic interactions? Is the technology that is introduced intrusive? Will the analytics technology impact the performance of the RIA? Can the information gleaned provide actionable business intelligence ? Can the data be customized and presented for use by multiple types of knowledge-workers? Is the analytics solution easy to deploy and will it reduce the burden on the IT team?

As you can see, there are many things to consider when embarking upon an RIA effort. The good news is that RIAs have been gaining rapid adoption for several years, which is a sign that the technology is a viable choice for any size organization. Check out Midnight Coders’ product offering to learn more.

Conclusion

RIAs can help businesses reduce their operating costs and potentially open new channels for realizing revenue in a relatively short period of time. This technology is rapidly gaining traction in just about any industry the world over and will continue to be used as product and service differentiators in an increasingly competitive global market.

(Reposted from: www.busmanagement.com/article/Issue-15/Web-2.0/Rich-Internet-Applications-Empower-Enterprises-in-Recessionary-Times-/)

WebORB for Java Now Supports Sun GlassFish Enterprise Server

Frisco, Texas – March 31, 2009 – Midnight Coders announces WebORB support for  Sun GlassFish(TM) Enterprise Server - a winning combination for building Java(TM) software-based Rich Internet Applications (RIA).  WebORB for Java is the RIA industry’s most robust integration and runtime (presentation) server and Sun GlassFish Enterprise Server is the price/performance - leading open source application server offering, for both lightweight and enterprise-class RIAs.    Combining the two results  delivers fast start-up time, rapid iterative development and strong support for NetBeans(TM) IDE 6.5 and Eclipse.  Furthermore, WebORB can be embedded into any Sun GlassFish Enterprise Server platform. .

The combined offering supports RIA project developers in projects both large and small by providing:

  • Robust RIA development and deployment in a Java runtime environment.
  • RIAs requiring high scalability and performance.
  • Centralized application management for IT staff.
  • Connectivity  to multiple client-side technologies (Flash, Flex, Ajax, Silverlight and soon JavaFX(TM)) and Java software-based servers.
  • A team-based approach  to project success.
  • Solid product roadmap for current and next generation technologies.

Developers are welcome to click on WebORB for Java or http://www.sun.com/software/products/appsrvr/Sun GlassFish Enterprise Server  to learn more about each product and  their associated product downloads.

Midnight Coders, Inc – The RIA Company  is the only U.S.-based software developer of cross-platform, client-agnostic Rich Internet Application (RIA) solutions used for development, testing, runtime execution and application intelligence needs.  The company’s products and services drastically reduce total time and cost to build RIAs created in Flex, Flash, Silverlight and Ajax with better outcomes in application performance and breadth of offering. 

Sun, Sun Microsystems, the Sun logo, GlassFish, Java, JavaFX and NetBeans are trademarks or registered trademarks of Sun Microsystems, Inc. or its subsidiaries in the United States and other countries.

 

New PDF Generator Makes it Easy to Capture Flex, Flash, AJAX and Silverlight Content

For immediate release

Frisco, Texas – January 6, 2009 – Midnight Coders launches into New Year with WEBORB PDF Generator, a server-side SDK and runtime solution that enables the capture of Flex, Flash, AJAX and Silverlight content for inclusion into PDF documents.  The product is ideal for organizations that have a need to capture user content via electronic forms and then produce that content as a customized PDF document for electronic or paper distribution.  Product benefits include:

 

  • WYSIWIG PDF template design increases developer productivity and speeds time to deployment.
  • Custom Rendering provides maximum flexibility for achieving completely custom design for the generated documents.
  • Plugins for FlexBuilder (available now) and VisualStudio (coming soon) enable developers to easily create templates from within the development environment they are most familiar.
  • Flexible Data Binding methodologies provide greater options for developers to include content from multiple data sources without being intrusive.
  • Server-side PDF Generation centralizes administration, making installation and management easy and cost effective especially since there is a single install per server and no client fees.
  • Embeddable Flex/flash content such as chat and streaming media can be displayed within a PDF template to unlock many opportunities to streamline worker productivity and improve user interaction and satisfaction with web forms and PDF generated content.

Developers can learn more about WebORB PDF Generator by visiting  http://www.themidnightcoders.com/products/pdf-generator/overview.html ; contacting sales@themidnightcoders.com; or calling +1.888.MYWEBORB option 1.    Evaluation copies of the product are available from the website.   

Midnight Coders, Inc – The RIA Company  is the only U.S.-based software developer of cross-platform, client-agnostic Rich Internet Application (RIA) solutions used for development, testing, runtime execution and application intelligence needs.  The company’s products and services drastically reduce total time and cost to build RIAs created in Flex, Flash, Silverlight and Ajax with better outcomes in application performance and breadth of offering. Visit our website at www.themidnightcoders.com.

Beat the Bug with RIA AppPuncher!

Frisco, Texas – January 12, 2009 - Midnight Coders announces the release of AppPuncher Debugger, the first edition out of four Rich Internet Application testing products slated for release this quarter.  AppPuncher Debugger is a client-server testing tool that allows developers to inspect data exchanged between browser and server to understand and diagnose communication problems. 

AppPuncher Debugger runs next to an RIA browser-based client (Flex, Flash, AJAX, Silverlight or traditional browser-based applications) registering itself as a proxy that is recognized by Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Safari and Firefox.  (Firefox extension is required.)  This allows all client requests to be routed through AppPuncher Debugger for inspection.  The product offers the following features and benefits:

  • Structured and Sequential View Types
  • AMF Request/Response Visualization
  • Request/Response Multiple View Type Support
  • Visualization Optimizations
  • Debugging Remoting Requests
  • Request/Response Search and Filtering
  • Rapid detection and visualization of application faults and invalid requests and responses using custom defined values
  • Better accuracy using record, pause and replay features
  • Lower cost to test using a single debugging tool that supports AMF0, AMF3, HTTP, and REST/XML.

Future AppPuncher editions will include regression, stress and load testing of Rich Internet Applications.  AppPuncher Debugger Edition includes a free evaluation and can be downloaded from the Midnight Coders website located at www.themidnightcoders.com.  Interested developers should call 888-MYWEBORB for more information about the Midnight Coders RIA products and services. 

Midnight Coders, Inc – The RIA Company  is the only U.S.-based software developer of cross-platform, client-agnostic Rich Internet Application (RIA) solutions used for development, testing, runtime execution and application intelligence needs.  The company’s products and services drastically reduce total time and cost to build RIAs created in Flex, Flash, Silverlight and Ajax with better outcomes in application performance and breadth of offering. Visit our website at www.themidnightcoders.com.