Macromedia has released another product that simplifies the creation of rich internet applications. Mike's post on the Flash MX Data Collection Kit reveals a bit about what Macromedia is inching us toward. It's an interesting twist in the movement of the intelligence of an application .. and clearly it is what Macromedia thinks will represent is the next phase in the function of web-based applications.
- Phase 1: The Web Was Born. Simple servers respond to http requests and send back HTML pages.
- Dumb Servers
- Dumb Clients (browsers 1.0)
- PHP, Coldfusion, .asp
- Flash MX
It's interesting how this paralles the evolutions of database interaction in general. Phase 1: have processing on the server side - with complex SQL required -- and an expectation that many users would interact with dumb terminals. Phases 2-3 brought richer clients - MS-Access, PowerBuilder, Visual Basic .. and even the whole .NET framework.
But the Flash MX method is much better than the "thick clients" of old .. since there is no application to install or update .. or find the missing .dll file ... or fix the conflict .. or reinstall on the upgraded hard drive, etc etc.
The Web ironically shifted many "thick" client applications to "thin" ones again .. which constrained application designers (including most Electronic Medical Records vendors) .. as the web didn't offer a rich enough palette with which to paint their software.
So Macromedia now has tipped their cards, I think. With the departure of Jeremy Allaire, former brainchild and Chief Coldfusion Evalgelist at Macromedia .. is seems that the development efforts are shifting away from Coldfusion MX, and toward the tools that will enable developers to create more robust clients - with or without the browser. Is this Bad? I'm not yet sure. I like Coldfusion very much, and I think that the rich front-end certainly needs a robust back-end. Developers should be able to choose the right tools for the job. So .. if they do this right -- and continue to devote adequate resoruces to Coldfusion .. it could go very well for Macromedia indeed. But neglecting Coldfusion could backfire .. and could certainly alienate a generation of web developers. I think that there is a real risk of this. With Jeremy gone, and even Ben Forta writing more and more about the client side ... no one seems to be keeping the CF fire burning. It's been nearly a year since the release of "NEO" .. and there isn't much talk about what CF 7.0 is going to look like ...