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I am a strong supporter of smart clients. They could not have been anything better than smart clients. Smart clients are the big thing for any of us developers who write code for the desktop. But I do keep in touch with some of those things happening in the web world in which I spent a fair amount of time.

Smart clients are basically those client side apps which have these 4 characteristics specified below

1. Intelligent Deployment and update
2. Local resource utilization for UX
3. Connected and operate with one or more systems which serve data and business logic
4. Offline Capabilities which allow the application to behave seamlessly irrespective of whether Item #3 is available or not

And ofcourse I love them because that's my bread & butter :) And I have a fair share of arguments against web apps and my trumpcard used to be Offline capabilities. Apps which run in the browser (hey wait I am not talking about web pages with activex controls or java applets) need the pipe to talk over the network and present more and more of the UI as people keep working on the app. They are bottomline simply nothing but HTML BUT...

Everybody wants to work with their favorite application while they are offline not connected to that site or machine (where there favorite app is available). Is that possible; though I hate to say but YES one can build web apps with Rich UX using Ajax and Atlas with a local data store. Currently there are a few options they can explore.

1. IE (yes IE does provide this behavior) but IMO the size limitations are a bottleneck to anything which can be done sensibly. More...
2. Derby From apache (Sun's otherwise JavaDB) is an option which Zimbra uses which allows for structured storage but you would end up deploying a certificate signed jar file (which means user has to download something to the machine [Tameem's has an evil grin here hehhehe]
3. The Dojo toolkits storage api.

I wish to see something from the Microsoft Atlas folks or the IE folks or the smart client folks if they could probably ship a SQL Server Compact Edition database and relevant Atlas based client libraries and provide a default persistence store for IE so that rich AJAX/Atlas apps could provide the users of these colorful (if not extremely rich) web apps with offline capabilities.

As case studies one could take a look at Scrybe and Zimbra how they provide there web apps with offline capabilities.  

Posted on Monday, November 20, 2006 6:11 PM Technical | Back to top

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