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Dynamic HTML: The Definitive Reference, 3rd Edition by Danny Goodman

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Chapter ONLINE SECTION I. The State of the Art: Standards

When viewed from today’s media-centric world, the old days of the World Wide Web—way back in the early to mid-1990s—are mere sepia-toned recollections. Today, with so many personal computers and portable devices having always-on access to the Web at home, work, and leisure, the world’s users expect not only quick answers, but efficient and entertaining displays of data, akin to the rich experience offered by today’s videogame-charged e-atmosphere.

Although coined by Macromedia in 2002, the term “Rich Internet Application” has come to mean a combination of software and content that, once delivered to a client computer (typically in a web browser), has a life of its own. Users interact with content and interface elements just as they do in standalone applications installed on their computers. But if the user creates or modifies information, the data is typically stored on the server, not the client computer. The next time the user accesses the application—even from a different browser on a different computer—the user expects the application to behave the same way, with previously preserved data ready for use.

A variety of technologies have allowed the creation of rich Internet applications for nearly 10 years. Java applets, available in popular browsers since 1997, didn’t take the world by storm as predicted. In contrast, Macromedia’s Flash technology has attracted a dedicated following. Even so, the universal browser support ...

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