Cold war in RIA-land

On: October 9, 2007
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About Maarten van Sprang
Maarten has a Bachelor degree in Communication and Multimedia Design and is working for Humanique as an interaction designer. Right now he is also finishing his thesis on the New Media Master at the University of Amsterdam. He's is very interested in new media (obviously), gaming and music.


Web 2.0 gave the old web a brand new face, and with that, it added cultural and technological changes. Cultural change in the form of weblogging and social networking/bookmarking, technological in the form of User Generated Content and Rich Internet Applications (RIA).

For a change a want to address the latter. Because I’ve got the feeling that there is a cold war going on between Microsoft and Adobe, in their attempt to lure in designers and developers and to make them choose their RIA-products.

Microsoft Silverlight

One of the major introductions on the Microsoft MIX 2007 conference, is a technology called Silverlight, which is a cross-browser, cross-platform plug-in based on a stripped down version of the Windows Presentation Foundation. Microsoft also made a new set of development tools called Expression Blend, which they describe as the tool to make “engaging web-based applications in windows.” In theory this should blur the boundaries between designers and developers, but as I have experienced myself, it’s nearly impossible to make a working application without any knowledge of JavaScript or C#. Silverlight has a lot of potential, especially if it will support C# in the future, but recently Adobe came with a potential competitor.

Adobe Thermo

At the MAX conference Adobe showed their new application codenamed Thermo for the first time. Now I haven’t seen much of it besides these videos, but what’s interesting is that starts with the design and then adds code to that design. Unlike Blend in which you get standard Windows buttons which you can stylize as you wish. Thermo uses normal PSD files and it’s embedded layers and visual styles and turns it into a Flex application.

Both of these new applications are either in, or just out of their beta stage, so they are far from perfect, but nonetheless pose an interesting new way in the process of making internet applications with a variety of disciplines.

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