Welcome!

Java IoT Authors: Elizabeth White, Yeshim Deniz, Jyoti Bansal, Liz McMillan, Carmen Gonzalez

Related Topics: Java IoT

Java IoT: Article

The Return of the Client

Web services will propel the next generation of rich GUIs

I witnessed a recent BOF conversation in which the general feeling was that the browser GUI and its accompanying plethora of back-end frameworks had let people down by delivering a poor return on investment and a weak user-interface experience.

The Revenge of the Server
To predict the future you must study the past. Once upon a time servers ruled the kingdom of IT, with mainframe boxes delivering computing power to users who attached themselves via terminals. Then the GUI arrived along with cheaper and faster personal computers that promised a high-function user interface, challenging the era of the server. Early attempts to solve the client/server dichotomy exposed the weaknesses and strengths of both: the GUI delivered usability and high-end functionality while the server offered easier deployment and overall systems integrity. The server attacked the perceived strength of the client by offering a browser that provided a GUI, allowing green terminal users to put a fresh coat of paint on their applications. To all but the most belligerent among us, the browser had become the de facto user interface of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries.

The Clone Wars
It became clear, however, that to deliver a serious business application, an HTML user interface was just part of the story, and issues such as session state, transactions, and page management needed tackling. Back-end frameworks arose to handle these while front-end innovation faltered as forays into the world of JavaScript and other tricks to spruce up the user interface failed because proprietary extensions targeting particular operating systems couldn't do so without sacrificing the ubiquity of raw HTML. All Web applications ended up looking a lot like each other as the force pushed them toward the lowest common denominator, resulting in effective stagnation of the browser user interface.

Navigating, validating, or dealing with multiple forms simultaneously are a client applications' home territory; however, as the browser struggled with these, Mark Andreessen, Netscape's inventor, famously remarked:

There was one feature that was temporary in Mosaic: the Back and Forward buttons. That never made a lot of sense to us. Back to what? Forward to what? We thought there would be a better way to navigate. But no one ever came up with one. ... There's nothing emerging right now. Creativity stopped in 1997...
www.pcworld.com/news/article/0,aid,110156,00.asp

Form entry pages where information is left incomplete have to incur an entire server round-trip to determine the errant field, after which a new page is presented to the user with red text highlighting the areas that need attention. Sensitive information such as passwords is often not included in the error page returned to the user, so fixing the first error can just reveal further problems as this is now the missing required data. Pressing the back button can throw up the error message: "The page you requested cannot be displayed as it is the result of a post operation - please press Reload to refresh", after which a further dialog asks you to confirm whether this is really your intention. As Dr. Jakob Nielsen observed: "Billions of dollars are wasted every year in lost productivity as people wait for Web pages to perform duties that could have been handled better by a 1984 Macintosh-style graphical user interface application (www.useit.com/jakob)."

New Hope
It's never enough to score a victory simply by recognizing a strength in your opponent's argument and turning this to your advantage, for soon they will do likewise. The strength of the server is that it provides a single way to administer the client applications and HTML is a ubiquitous GUI format that can be read on almost every operating system. The force pushed the client to invent a way to have a full-fledged user interface that could be updated centrally by the server. Java Web Start now offers this. Although applets suffered problems in their initial incarnations, improvements made in 1.4 and beyond now mean they are a viable way to deliver a fully functioning Java GUI via a browser. Java's mantra of "write once, run anywhere" suits those wishing to write a GUI that can be delivered across a wide variety of platforms, and Swing improvements in the past few years now mean that it offers a high function point that couples good platform fidelity with a set of powerful frameworks. For those wishing to program in Java and enjoy native platform widgets directly, SWT provides a very good toolkit.

The Client Strikes Back
The problems that plagued early client/server for deployment and homogeneity with native appearance are solved. As the Web folks realized once HTML's glitz wore off, more is required than just serving up a fancy GUI. Application frameworks are required and JDNC is a powerful technology that provides a way to attach a Java GUI to back-end data. JSR 273, which was recently approved, promises to overhaul the JavaBeans component model specification and allow tools builders to create an easier and more powerful programming experience. Web services were once described to me as "HTML for non-carbon based life forms," the inference being that programs could send and receive messages using the simplicity of HTTP and the Web without needing a browser to render the data for a user to interpret. As more APIs from companies whose fame arose through the browser become published as Web services, the wealth of data behind the Web can become consumed by fully functioning Java client GUIs. It seems ironic that the transport of data over HTTP, the backbone that launched the Web, might become the new model for client/server, and Web services will propel the next generation of rich GUIs. The force is with us yet.

More Stories By Joe Winchester

Joe Winchester, Editor-in-Chief of Java Developer's Journal, was formerly JDJ's longtime Desktop Technologies Editor and is a software developer working on development tools for IBM in Hursley, UK.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@ThingsExpo Stories
As businesses adopt functionalities in cloud computing, it’s imperative that IT operations consistently ensure cloud systems work correctly – all of the time, and to their best capabilities. In his session at @BigDataExpo, Bernd Harzog, CEO and founder of OpsDataStore, will present an industry answer to the common question, “Are you running IT operations as efficiently and as cost effectively as you need to?” He will expound on the industry issues he frequently came up against as an analyst, and...
Your homes and cars can be automated and self-serviced. Why can't your storage? From simply asking questions to analyze and troubleshoot your infrastructure, to provisioning storage with snapshots, recovery and replication, your wildest sci-fi dream has come true. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 20th Cloud Expo, Dan Florea, Director of Product Management at Tintri, will provide a ChatOps demo where you can talk to your storage and manage it from anywhere, through Slack and similar services ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that HTBase will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. HTBase (Gartner 2016 Cool Vendor) delivers a Composable IT infrastructure solution architected for agility and increased efficiency. It turns compute, storage, and fabric into fluid pools of resources that are easily composed and re-composed to meet each application’s needs. With HTBase, companies can quickly prov...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Linux Academy, the foremost online Linux and cloud training platform and community, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Linux Academy was founded on the belief that providing high-quality, in-depth training should be available at an affordable price. Industry leaders in quality training, provided services, and student certification passes, its goal is to c...
SYS-CON Events announced today that SoftLayer, an IBM Company, has been named “Gold Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York, New York. SoftLayer, an IBM Company, provides cloud infrastructure as a service from a growing number of data centers and network points of presence around the world. SoftLayer’s customers range from Web startups to global enterprises.
In his session at @ThingsExpo, Eric Lachapelle, CEO of the Professional Evaluation and Certification Board (PECB), will provide an overview of various initiatives to certifiy the security of connected devices and future trends in ensuring public trust of IoT. Eric Lachapelle is the Chief Executive Officer of the Professional Evaluation and Certification Board (PECB), an international certification body. His role is to help companies and individuals to achieve professional, accredited and worldw...
SYS-CON Events announced today that CA Technologies has been named “Platinum Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place October 31-November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. CA Technologies helps customers succeed in a future where every business – from apparel to energy – is being rewritten by software. From ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Technologic Systems Inc., an embedded systems solutions company, will exhibit at SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Technologic Systems is an embedded systems company with headquarters in Fountain Hills, Arizona. They have been in business for 32 years, helping more than 8,000 OEM customers and building over a hundred COTS products that have never been discontinued. Technologic Systems’ pr...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Auditwerx will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Auditwerx specializes in SOC 1, SOC 2, and SOC 3 attestation services throughout the U.S. and Canada. As a division of Carr, Riggs & Ingram (CRI), one of the top 20 largest CPA firms nationally, you can expect the resources, skills, and experience of a much larger firm combined with the accessibility and attent...
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing Cloud strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @CloudExpo | @ThingsExpo, June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY and October 31 - November 2, 2017, Santa Clara Convention Center, CA. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is on the right path to Digital Transformation.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Loom Systems will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Founded in 2015, Loom Systems delivers an advanced AI solution to predict and prevent problems in the digital business. Loom stands alone in the industry as an AI analysis platform requiring no prior math knowledge from operators, leveraging the existing staff to succeed in the digital era. With offices in S...
SYS-CON Events announced today that T-Mobile will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. As America's Un-carrier, T-Mobile US, Inc., is redefining the way consumers and businesses buy wireless services through leading product and service innovation. The Company's advanced nationwide 4G LTE network delivers outstanding wireless experiences to 67.4 million customers who are unwilling to compromise on ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Infranics will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Since 2000, Infranics has developed SysMaster Suite, which is required for the stable and efficient management of ICT infrastructure. The ICT management solution developed and provided by Infranics continues to add intelligence to the ICT infrastructure through the IMC (Infra Management Cycle) based on mathemat...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Interoute, owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017 at the Javits Center in New York, New York. Interoute is the owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform which encompasses 12 data centers, 14 virtual data centers and 31 colocation centers, with connections to 195 add...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cloudistics, an on-premises cloud computing company, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Cloudistics delivers a complete public cloud experience with composable on-premises infrastructures to medium and large enterprises. Its software-defined technology natively converges network, storage, compute, virtualization, and management into a ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that SD Times | BZ Media has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 6–8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. BZ Media LLC is a high-tech media company that produces technical conferences and expositions, and publishes a magazine, newsletters and websites in the software development, SharePoint, mobile development and commercial UAV markets.
"I think that everyone recognizes that for IoT to really realize its full potential and value that it is about creating ecosystems and marketplaces and that no single vendor is able to support what is required," explained Esmeralda Swartz, VP, Marketing Enterprise and Cloud at Ericsson, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Why do your mobile transformations need to happen today? Mobile is the strategy that enterprise transformation centers on to drive customer engagement. In his general session at @ThingsExpo, Roger Woods, Director, Mobile Product & Strategy – Adobe Marketing Cloud, covered key IoT and mobile trends that are forcing mobile transformation, key components of a solid mobile strategy and explored how brands are effectively driving mobile change throughout the enterprise.
My team embarked on building a data lake for our sales and marketing data to better understand customer journeys. This required building a hybrid data pipeline to connect our cloud CRM with the new Hadoop Data Lake. One challenge is that IT was not in a position to provide support until we proved value and marketing did not have the experience, so we embarked on the journey ourselves within the product marketing team for our line of business within Progress. In his session at @BigDataExpo, Sum...
Keeping pace with advancements in software delivery processes and tooling is taxing even for the most proficient organizations. Point tools, platforms, open source and the increasing adoption of private and public cloud services requires strong engineering rigor - all in the face of developer demands to use the tools of choice. As Agile has settled in as a mainstream practice, now DevOps has emerged as the next wave to improve software delivery speed and output. To make DevOps work, organization...