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Compiling it to managed means that you can interoperate with other managed languages really naturally. So, you can take a PHP project and add new "modules" to it that you write in, say, C#, then import the C# dll into your Phalanger project, and compile.
So, it's more than just performance (not to mention security), but, you are right, it was kind of a "let's see if we can do this" kind of thing (which many school projects are, initially) and they did! Smart kids (well, they look like kids to me).
These videos required editing, I think. He had 15-20 min. of material...
A smart client needs to have a smart element which has learning or hides unimportant data from the user or does something useful like that. It can really be done in any language (unmanaged or managed), and it ultimately has to be useful.
staceyw wrote: Still no definition of Smart Client unless I missed it. Seems it is another word for WinForm app to me. If it is because it uses the network or port 80 then it should be WinForms Network Client. WinForms clients have been clients in a client/server area for a long time so maybe just a new marketing term to refer to a WinForm client that in network enabled (i.e. WSE, Indigo, sockets, etc).
Outlook 2003 is one of the best examples of a smart client I've seen. The way it swiches seamless from online to offline and back is what makes it smart compared to a classic client/server where when the network connection to the server dies the app packs up and shuts down.