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Introducing Silverlight 1.1 by Todd Anglin

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An Overview of Rich Internet Applications

We have mentioned “Rich Internet Applications” a few times so far in the context of Silverlight, but what exactly is a “RIA” web application? And why would you want to adopt the RIA model for your own web development?

RIAs are web applications that have the features and functionality of traditional desktop applications. RIAs typically transfer the processing necessary for the user interface to the web client but keep the bulk of the data processing (such as maintaining the state of the program, the data, etc.) on the application server.

Traditional web applications center all activity on a client-server architecture, where a thin client (the web browser) interacts with a powerful server. Under this system, all processing is done on the server and the client is used only to display static HTML content. The biggest drawback with this system is that all interaction with the application must pass through the server. That means data must be sent to the server, the server must respond, and then the page must be reloaded on the client with the server’s response. By moving more of this processing to client-side technology that can execute instructions on the client’s computer, RIAs can circumvent this slow, synchronous loop for many user interactions.

Benefits of Rich Internet Applications

One of the primary benefits of Rich Internet Applications is that they can offer user-interface behaviors that are not obtainable using only the HTML controls available ...

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