Teleconference
Enterprise RIA Adoption: What a
Difference a Good Strategy Makes
Jeffrey Hammond
Senior Analyst
Forrester Research
November 12, 2008. Call in at 1:55 p.m. EST
Theme
RIA adoption is no longer a
question of if, but a matter
of how…
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Entire contents © 2007 Forrester Research, Inc. All rights reserved.
RIA technology moved into mainstream use in 2007
“For custom-developed applications, which development platforms does your company use?”
(multiple responses accepted)
Base: 796 platform software decision-makers at North American and European enterprises and SMBs
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Entire contents © 2007 Forrester Research, Inc. All rights reserved.
RIA technology moved into mainstream use in 2007
“For what purposes is your organization using your
primary IDE?
Base: 703 North American application development
professionals (multiple responses accepted)
Source: Forrester - 1105 Media IDE Survey, May 2007
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Entire contents © 2007 Forrester Research, Inc. All rights reserved.
RIAs are evolving beyond consumer sites
Initial RIA deployments: Consumer Apps and ISVs
In 2007 Forrester saw a surge of internally focused
RIA deployments – Why?
• Client-server application replacement
• Development of information workplaces
» Complex flows support task workers
» Visualization supports information workers
• Making core applications location, and device
independent
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Entire contents © 2007 Forrester Research, Inc. All rights reserved.
There are common 3 RIA adoption archetypes
1.
2.
3.
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Tactical adoption at the developer/team level
»
Spot enhancement of existing Web sites
»
Widgets and applets
»
Uses primarily FOSS Ajax libraries
How do you
determine the
best approach?
Standardized adoption of Ajax or Plug-ins
»
Full applications, client server app replacement
»
Shops standardize across teams on Ajax or Plug-ins
»
Mix of Commercial and FOSS Ajax, Flex and eventually Silverlight
Mixed model adoption based on fit-to-purpose
»
Extends to mobile apps, desktop, offline use scenarios
»
Shops define when and where to use different RIA technologies
»
Supports interop. scenarios like Ajax w/ Flash and Flex w/ Ajax
Entire contents © 2007 Forrester Research, Inc. All rights reserved.
Six dimensions that separate RIA options
Criteria
Why it matters
Reach and intent
Matching a solution to a user’s target platforms
minimizes redundancies and wasted effort
Richness of widget set
A broad palette of controls improves design options
when dealing with complex data or transactions
Extended ecosystem
Development tools, training, consulting and support
all minimize ramp-up time and decrease cycle time,
extended lifecycle support is key
Performance profile
Performance mismatches disappoint power users
Security and “…ilities”
Difficult to retrofit after an application is deployed
Ease of customization
Integration efforts, evolving UI design conventions,
and self-support capability all require access to
source code and customization capabilities
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Entire contents © 2007 Forrester Research, Inc. All rights reserved.
Reach and intent – relative solution strength
Concern
Raw
Ajax
Spot enhancements
of existing Web
sites





Widgets and Applets





Full Applications





Multiple OSes
Mobile Devices















Occasionally
connected apps





Multiple Browsers
Not Appropriate 
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Ajax
Ajax
Browser
Desktop
Libraries Frameworks plug-ins frameworks
Adequate 
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Good fit 
Overkill 
Reach and intent – preflight checklist
• Where does your application need to go?
• Who will use it, how often?
• What does it need to do?
• How will you apply RIA technology?
» Incremental – spot enhancement of existing sites
» Transformational – completely new application or
rewrite of existing legacy application
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Richness of widget set – preflight checklist
• Is the widget library sufficient for that task at hand?
» Basic controls
» Advanced controls
» Data-aware controls
» Canvas and drawing
• Is relative positioning supported?
• How are styles, templates and skins applied?
• How easy is it to build new controls or integrate with
other Ajax and Plug-in technologies?
• How will it adapt to the evolution of HTML 5?
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Richness of widget set - examples
• With “roll your own” Ajax you do exactly that….
• GWT ~ 30 controls, mainly basic layout
• Dojo (Dijit) ~ 30 controls, mainly basic layout
• Flash/Silverlight 1.0 – primitives instead of controls
• Flex - ~ 30 controls, including data, charting and
layout, can also interoperate w/ Ajax libraries
• Isomorphic - 35 controls, including data aware,
analytics and visual design
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Extended ecosystem – preflight checklist
Bells and whistles are necessary…but not sufficient!
• What’s the programming model and learning curve?
» Declarative vs. Imperative models
• Are there WSIWYG development tools available?
• Can you hire, find or train resources quickly?
• What about ALM and Design tool integrations?
» Can designers provide CSS, artifacts and/or share projects?
» Can you version artifacts with standard SCM tools?
» How will you test applications?
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Performance profile – preflight checklist
• What is your usage intensity profile?
» Power users need validation, performance, keyboard shortcuts.
» Occasional users need effective engagement, UI cueing
» Infrequent users need low footprint, discoverability
• What’s the user base and client horsepower?
• What is the duty cycle on the application’s data?
• What’s the minimum start-up data set?
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Entire contents © 2007 Forrester Research, Inc. All rights reserved.
Programming model and performance profile
separate RIA frameworks and libraries
Declarative
Client
Isomorphic
Power Nexaweb
Users
XAP
Silverlight
Power
JavaFX
Users
Dojo
JSF Based
(MyFaces,
ICEFaces, etc)
Struts, Tiles
and
CurlInfrequent
Infrequent and
Occasional Users
Occasional Users
Ext
YUI
jQuery
Wicket
Imperative
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Entire contents © 2007 Forrester Research, Inc. All rights reserved.
GWT
Server
Flex
Security and “…ilities” – preflight checklist
• What is the sensitivity of the data involved?
• What is the opportunity for exposure?
• What steps does the RIA technology take to
insulate developers from common attacks?
• What accessibility requirements do you have?
• What navigability requirements do you have?
• What searchability requirements do you have?
• What measurability requirements do you have?
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March 2008 “Securing Rich Internet Applications”
How To Reduce The Security Risks In The Three Facets Of An RIA’s Attack
Surface
© 2008, Forrester Research, Inc. Reproduction Prohibited
“…ilities” are dependent on RIA technology type
• Plug-ins and Ajax frameworks generally do well
with accessibility, Ajax libraries – not so much.
• Navigability is supported via hacks in Ajax libraries,
Ajax frameworks, and Flex
• Searchability is a general problem for unless
specific designs patterns are implemented
• Support for analytics is improving, especially for
widgets, and Ajax applications
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Ease of customization – preflight checklist
• What are your integration needs?
» Calling into .NET, Java on the server
» Support for SOAP, REST Web services
» Legacy integration and Packaged Apps
• What rights does the copyright holder grant you?
• What is the health of the supporting community (if any)?
• What standards does the technology support?
• What options do you have to mix and match different
libraries and controls?
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An example of a RIA win-win
Major U.S. Pharmaceutical Company
Problem: How to grow a custom app infrastructure to support the drug
discovery pipeline.
Solution: An interactive reporting application that
» Allows researchers to create customized reports that drill down on
particular aspect of the drug discovery process
» Makes large amounts of data locally available
» Ensures cleanliness of data before it enters the system
Benefits:
» Significant reduction in development time
» Higher level of developer abstraction
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An example of a RIA win-win
Major U.S. Defense Contractor
Problem: Proliferation of open source RIA libraries create governance
and architecture risk
Solution: An shift to a strategic mixed model RIA platform
» Deployed a mix of CRUD, reporting and transactional apps
» Executive dashboard integrates Ajax, Flash for maximum effect
» Core program planning app rolled out to ~4,000 engineers
Benefits:
» Usability creates high levels of end user good will
» Significant reduction ins developer on-ramp
» Ability to mix tactical refits and strategic development
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Entire contents © 2007 Forrester Research, Inc. All rights reserved.
Recommendations
• Start by defining the span of your RIA needs
» Incremental vs. Transformational
» Extranet vs. Intranet
» RIA scenario types
• Strategic users should focus on mixed model adoption
• Match the solution to your developer skill base
• Match the solutions to your performance profile
• Use Ajax where reach, integration and mobility needs
are primary
• Use Plug-ins for rich media, occasionally connected
apps, controlled deployments
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Entire contents © 2007 Forrester Research, Inc. All rights reserved.
Thank you
Jeffrey Hammond
+1 617/613-6164
[email protected]
Twitter: jhammond
www.forrester.com
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Entire contents © 2007 Forrester Research, Inc. All rights reserved.
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