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Why I want to but cannot build a Smart Client

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  • User profile image
    Larsenal

    To summarize my understanding of the key benefits of Smart Clients:
    - rich user experience
    - great for "sometimes connected" situations
    - great deployment and update story

    I'm working on a project right now where this looks like a perfect fit.  Almost.  The sad news is that in our target industry, cross-platform accessibility is a requirement.  If I told them, "Oh, by the way, this application we're going to build for you can only be used from a Windows PC." they'd say, "Thanks, but no thanks."

    I'm excited about Smart Client technologies, don't get me wrong.  However, I may get forced into a situation of having to copy some of the concepts to the best of our abilities/resources.

    The clients probably would be flexible when it comes to server platform, but saying that every user with a Mac is out of luck won't work.  So sad.

    Where can I find consolation? (rhetorical question, of course)

  • User profile image
    Minh

    The image “<a href=http://www.fluent.com/about/news/pr/img/pr5i1b.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors." src="http://www.fluent.com/about/news/pr/img/pr5i1b.jpg">

    Misguided souls...

  • User profile image
    DoomBringer

    Sounds like you're stuck using J2EE/J2SE then.  Unless Mono is an option...

  • User profile image
    Larsenal

    Our current prototype is pushing Flash to its limits.  Raise your hand if you enjoy programming in ActionScript.

  • User profile image
    Sven Groot

    Larsenal wrote:
    Our current prototype is pushing Flash to its limits.  Raise your hand if you enjoy programming in ActionScript.

    *pins hands to the floor*

    I've used Flash once and ActionScript is in my top-two worst programming languages ever. The other one is InstallShield's InstallScript.

  • User profile image
    geekling

    You could always just break down and use Java. Wink

  • User profile image
    Charles

    LOL Minh! Boy, that Guiness looks mighty good...

    Yes, you are experiencing the classic problem most client developers with platform-heterogeneous customers face. I don't see where Smart Client comes into play, exactly. Sure, it's smart to write a Smart Client on top of the .NET Framework (given the tool support, the ease of development, the power of the Framework, etc), but it's not a requirement. For example, Outlook 2003 is an example of a Smart Client in that it handles offline/online and data synchronization almost flawlessly. Is it written in managed code (is any of Office written in managed code). No.

    I don't see why you couldn't take the Smart Client design concepts and fold them into the technology you have at your fingertips and align with your customer-driven requirements. Of course, asking them to run Windows is a great idea! Wink

    At any rate, please stay tuned to Channel 9. We're going to really dig into this Smart Client thing in the near future. Time to go deep...


    C

  • User profile image
    figuerres

    Larsenal wrote:
    To summarize my understanding of the key benefits of Smart Clients:
    - rich user experience
    - great for "sometimes connected" situations
    - great deployment and update story

    I'm working on a project right now where this looks like a perfect fit.  Almost.  The sad news is that in our target industry, cross-platform accessibility is a requirement.  If I told them, "Oh, by the way, this application we're going to build for you can only be used from a Windows PC." they'd say, "Thanks, but no thanks."

    I'm excited about Smart Client technologies, don't get me wrong.  However, I may get forced into a situation of having to copy some of the concepts to the best of our abilities/resources.

    The clients probably would be flexible when it comes to server platform, but saying that every user with a Mac is out of luck won't work.  So sad.

    Where can I find consolation? (rhetorical question, of course)


    is the Mac a target system??

    what ever the target clients are, use the lessons of smart client and .net with that system:

    for windows do a smartclient.

    for the mac -- make a client thats a close as is possible -- for example:
    why can't a mac app be pulled from a server and run in a folder ??  seems to me they have done that for years already.... just package the bits for the user.

    find a mac library for doing services that works with the pc client as needed....

    I'd say on the mac some of the stuff will work very easy, some you will have to build.... but in the end if you use the design and arch. ideas of the .net smart client you can have a mac one too.

  • User profile image
    geekling

    Oh. For the record, iFolder -- from Novell -- runs on all three major platforms.

    The only difference is they abstracted UI from Core; the Core is the same across all platforms (Linux: Mono, Mac OS X: Mono, Windows: Microsoft.NET) but the UI is written in a native tool-kit, like SWF, GTK#, and Cococa.

    Anything is possible to achieve when you put your heart into it!

    Everyone, song and dance time!

  • User profile image
    Larsenal

    Yeah I guess my point was that it's easy to get excited about the cool MSFT technologies that are coming down the pipeline.  It's a shame when I just get to look and not "touch" for a real project.  Afterall, who really wants to go the Java route when we've got all this .NET excitement coming our way.

  • User profile image
    Aayush Puri

    Charles wrote:


    I don't see why you couldn't take the Smart Client design concepts and fold them into the technology you have at your fingertips and align with your customer-driven requirements. Of course, asking them to run Windows is a great idea!



    Exactly! Smart Clients is a concept that has arisen due to some superb architectural level decisions. And these architectural level decisions were dictated by certain non-functional requirements (quality attributes) that a Smart Client must fulfill. Therefore Smart Clients don't talk about any implementation level details or the platform required for development for Smart Clients as is the case with (ideally) all architectures. Remember the RUP (Rational Unified Process) methodology?
    I recently commented a bit about Smart Clients in the context of a joint effort of SAP and Microsoft to develop Smart Client applications (apps having Office front-end). You can read the article here and I hope it clears out things a bit. Also let me know in case I am wrong at any point.

    Charles wrote:

    At any rate, please stay tuned to Channel 9. We're going to really dig into this Smart Client thing in the near future. Time to go deep...


    I really hope to hear more about Smart Clients from Channel 9 soon. Kindly do keep Smart Clients at the top of the stack while choosing which technology/concept for making a video!

  • User profile image
    Larsenal

    Charles wrote:

    I don't see where Smart Client comes into play, exactly.


    For what we envision, it doesn't seem like the current set of browser-bound technologies will give us enough power.  Not responsive enough.  Not rich enough.

    Charles wrote:

    I don't see why you couldn't take the Smart Client design concepts and fold them into the technology you have at your fingertips and align with your customer-driven requirements. Of course, asking them to run Windows is a great idea!


    Yeah, that's clearly what I'll end up doing.  It seems that Microsoft is going to bring us some compelling tools to help us in this area.

    Charles wrote:

    ...please stay tuned to Channel 9


    Oh believe me... I will.

  • User profile image
    Tensor

    Smartclient is a concept not directly rooted in Microsoft technologies. As it happens, the .net framework and the patterns & practice group stuff are great for making smart clients - they make it relatively easy. There is no reason you could not use, say, Java though.

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