The blog of Eric Sibly; focusing on mountain biking, .NET development for the Desktop, Smartphone and PocketPC.

Monday, January 23, 2006

0x24 - enough said...

Well, yesterday marked the passing of yet another year :-(

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Browser vs Smart Client...

Yesterday, I got into a discussion with a number of my esteemed colleagues at work about my disdain for the likes of AJAX and Web based applications. For the record, I do not have a problem with the technologies per se, more with the way in which they are used and abused. In essence I believe there is a time and place for each type of technology.

Just because you can do it doesn’t mean you should!


I think that there is a place for browser based Web Applications – specifically where reach is of the up most importance. This is the obvious choice for the likes of organizational home pages, e-zines, search engines, blogs, ebay, or amazon for example.

The challenge with these applications can be the browsers themselves, in that they all do not support the same Web standards, and as such there is an additional cost associated with the development depending on the features being targeted for often a small percentage of users. What version of IE, what about Firefox or Opera, etc? Sometimes I believe an organization is better off ignoring a small percentage of users to focus on the majority to provide them with the best possible experience, than provide an average experience to all.

My real issue with browser applications is where the applications are targeted behind the corporate firewall. These organizations typically have an SOE rolled out, so hardware and software specifications and versions are controlled and understood. Where these applications have a high user count and are highly interactive, then they are not best served with a browser application – an improved user experience can be provided by a Smart Client.

I know a lot of organizations in the past looked at Web applications as a way to solve deployment issues, but with Click Once and other related technologies for rolling out updates this point is now largely redundant.

Reach and application context should be the driver!


Don’t get me wrong, I think this is cool, and it certainly solves the constant post-backs for updating lists for example, and it can greatly improve the user experience. (I like some of the stuff on Windows Live for example.)

But I fear it could really be abused, where all sorts of little pop-up style windows with right-mouse context menu options are going to scare off the mom & pop user – i.e. the average consumer.

Use wisely!

Smart Client

Where an application has significant user interactions and reach is confined to a specific operating system then a Smart Client application is the best choice. I think OWA is fantastic for checking emails etc. when on the road, but Outlook kicks its ass for improved functionality and experience – there is a time and place for each (context)!

Smart Client enables us to utilize the power on the users machine, to effectively integrate with their day to day tools such as Office. Advanced UI controls and application integration can more easily be achieved with Windows Forms than ASP.NET controls, state management and caching is simpler as it no longer needs to be managed directly on the server. With Web Services, WSE and the WCF enabler we now also have an effective means of communicating between the client and server. With SQL Express we have the ability to effectively cache data on the local device.

The story for Smart Client applications is continuing to improve, with Click Once, and WPF on its way. Deployment is no longer an issue, security is not a problem as the applications run in a security sandbox, and they can also be set up to run within the browser. It is with WPF that these applications will really match and surpass the advanced user interface style introduced by the browser providing a rich and immersive experience for users.

In the future I think we will see the likes of the standard Amazon web pages, with an enriched shopping experience enabled by WPF - as first eluded to back at PDC03.

Take advantage of the power and flexibility of the user's machine!


I think it is now time for organizations and technologists to reconsider their choice of application enabling technology, and to look to choose the appropriate technology that best serves the organization and its users.

Finally, why invest in these great PCs and Laptops and not really take advantage of their inherent power?

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Bindows, but why...

Why would anyone want to develop Windows looking applications for the browser? Surely they would work better as Windows Forms applications that run on Windows if they are designed for Windows? Would a Mac or Linux biggot/user suddenly want their favourite site to look like Windows - me thinks not!

The beauty, and I use that term loosely, of Web applications in some respects is that their interfaces are somewhat unique, in that they project personality, not the grey Windows 95 interface. This is why WPF excites me, as more immersive/rich looking/functioning applications will hopefully be built that have personality!

This Bindows is another demonstration of *browser* application development gone bad; again, thanks to the likes of the new style of virus - AJAX.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Shingle bells...

… scabby rash swells; I want this f**kin pain to go away …

Thanks Santa (you bastard) for the gift that keeps on giving this Christmas - a case of poxy Shingles. Man this sucker hurts! There are no antibiotics for it and it is something that I have to put up with until it eventually disappears. Luckily I appear at this stage to have a fairly mild case, although I am still in the very early stages – the painful rash can last anywhere from 3-5 weeks, with the associated nerve pain potentially lasting for several months. Sleep is almost impossible and the constant throbbing pain 24/7 is starting to wear pretty thin on my patience :-(

So let’s see, I ...

  • don’t do drugs
  • don’t smoke
  • only drink light beer
  • exercise regularly
  • eat mostly healthy foods
  • get plenty of rest
... and this is how my body repays me!

Once this over I will pay it back by reversing all of my habits – teach it a bit of a lesson – it won’t mess with me again – ha!