Open Thread: How Rich is Your Internet Experience?


Do you use any rich Internet applications (RIAs)? Applications that regularly communicate with the Internet, but offer a desktop-like user experience? I use at least three applications I’d label as RIAs: Adium for instant messaging integration, Twitterific for interacting with Twitter, and iTunes for playing web radio and subscribing to podcasts.

On Friday, Mozilla announced Prism, a way of blurring the line between the desktop and the web experience. Prism is based on WebRunner, a stripped-down browser that “hosts web applications without the normal web browser user interface” and has “a tighter integration with the OS and desktop than a typical web application running through a web browser.”

The most obvious competitor to Prism is Adobe AIR, which is getting some traction through RIAs that access web-based APIs, like Twitter’s. AIR-based Snitter is getting good reviews and buzz. Twitter competitor Pownce offers an AIR-based downloadable RIA too.

What RIAs do you use? Are there websites and services you’d like to see offer a more desktop-like, application-like experience?



A little late to this, but I use quite a few RIA’s
Google Mail and Google Apps
Ifficient (a proprietary web app for managing images for prepress)
and of course, WordPress


while I am a big fan of Eclipse, and I am, even now, installing RAP, I wonder if it applies here. It appears that RAP based applications still run in a browser and suffer from all that that implies; on the other hand, they can take advantage of AJAX technologies to give the user a better experience which is nice.

I would have to disagree with the wikipedia entry for RIA. For example, wikipedia says that the following are short comings of RIA’s:
Script Download time,
Dependence on an internet connection,
I would argue that if your application suffers from any of these, that it is not an RIA, its just a (possibly very sexy and cool) web application. I think that an RIA needs access to the local machine to really be an RIA. For example Google Gears based applications still run in the browser, but they give the developer access to a local data store so that the application can respond faster and work offline. I believe that this type of behavior is what defines a “RIA”.


This may be a tad off on a tangent, but I worry about conflating the term rich UI with a particular technology, cool and hip though that technology is. (I’m a fan, and like Allan Cooper, I think the browser has done more damage than good)

I was reading box and arrows last night, and I’ll quote from an article there.
“Intelligently crafted, well-intentioned acts of communication that are emotionally satisfying and sensibly organized to meet user goals, thus becoming something memorable and valuable. Ultimately, that is what richness is about—connecting to those core human qualities that define our goals, values, and attitudes for living.”

I would hate for the power of the word rich to be subsumed into a three letter acronym. There are some poor UIs built with RIA, and there are some very rich ones built without RIA.

Rich should be about the experience not the technology.

more over on my blog.

Anne Zelenka

iTunes may be more desktop app than Internet app… but using it for playing Internet radio requires ongoing Internet access. In regular use, Word doesn’t access the Internet and doesn’t rely on it in any way whereas iTunes would be crippled without access to the Internet.


I don’t consider iTunes to be a RIA. It’s a desktop application that happens to communicate with the internet. Microsoft Word is also a desktop application that communicates with the internet. Do you call it a RIA too?

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