Enterprise RIAs are desktop-style applications that feature interactive richness and functionality to offer a much improved user experience compared to standard browser-based applications. While the user interface in enterprise RIA need not include the elaborate and complex graphical elements or interactive animation associated with commercial, social, or gaming applications, it should, nevertheless, be clear and engaging to provide intuitive and efficient usability. An application suite such as Google Docs shows the impressively robust and feature-rich user experience that can be achieved when implementing RIA to its fullest potential.
Too often companies limit themselves to providing only the most basic functionality, with little regard for the quality of the user experience. In doing so, they take the ‘rich’ out of RIA. But why is this happening? How can we explain this reluctance to embrace the true added value of RIA?
It seems that the answer lies primarily in the nature of the standard RIA development process. RIA development tools typically require separate development efforts for the server side and the client side of an application, often using different programming languages and requiring different developer skill sets. Separate teams of developers need to be recruited, trained, and managed. Multiple teams and skill-set dependence can create process bottlenecks, and make it harder to update an application as user needs evolve. So, faced with the high cost and labor-intensive process of creating and maintaining truly rich applications, some businesses balk at the required investment of money, time, and effort.
However, these businesses need no longer be so wary of the RIA development life cycle. Metadata-driven application platforms offer a fresh approach to RIA deployment, simplifying and streamlining the development process. For example, with the right technology, it is now possible to use a single programming language and make a single development effort to create both the server and the client sides of the application. No more multiple teams; no more multiple development efforts; no more slow and costly development life cycles; just the freedom to focus on enhancing the richness of the user experience.
It’s all about using the right tools for the job. Businesses shouldn’t settle for less, when they can get so much more out of the RIA experience with a relatively small investment. When it comes to RIA, getting ‘rich’ doesn’t have to be expensive.