Raymond is a software engineer with BBN Technologies and recently completed his first book, Professional Rich Internet Applications: AJAX and Beyond.
Rich Internet Applications (RIAs) increasingly developed as solutions to problems traditionally solved by applications executing on the client. Complex programs such as wordprocessors, spreadsheets, and e-mail clients are now maintained online, and executed entirely within the confines of web browsers. Consider the popularity of sites like Gmail, Google Maps, and Flickr.
Desktop widgets are lightweight client applications that can be used in conjunction with a RIA to incorporate the advantages of both the client and server. The advantage widgets offer for a RIA are the ability to interact with client systems, and to use resources available only on clients while avoiding the overhead required to develop a complete application from scratch. Examples of client interactions that are possible with widgets include:
- Client filesystem interactions such as reading/writing files on client systems.
- System analysis, such as examining the amount of CPU or memory in use.
- Interacting with iTunes or other applications running on client systems.
- Examining the number and power level of batteries connected to client systems.