Click here to close now.

Welcome!

Java IoT Authors: Lori MacVittie, Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Dinko Eror, Gregor Petri

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
Internet of Things (IoT) will be a hybrid ecosystem of diverse devices and sensors collaborating with operational and enterprise systems to create the next big application. In their session at @ThingsExpo, Bramh Gupta, founder and CEO of robomq.io, and Fred Yatzeck, principal architect leading product development at robomq.io, discussed how choosing the right middleware and integration strategy from the get-go will enable IoT solution developers to adapt and grow with the industry, while at the same time reduce Time to Market (TTM) by using plug and play capabilities offered by a robust IoT ...
The Internet of Things is not only adding billions of sensors and billions of terabytes to the Internet. It is also forcing a fundamental change in the way we envision Information Technology. For the first time, more data is being created by devices at the edge of the Internet rather than from centralized systems. What does this mean for today's IT professional? In this Power Panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists addressed this very serious issue of profound change in the industry.
SYS-CON Events announced today that BMC will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. BMC delivers software solutions that help IT transform digital enterprises for the ultimate competitive business advantage. BMC has worked with thousands of leading companies to create and deliver powerful IT management services. From mainframe to cloud to mobile, BMC pairs high-speed digital innovation with robust IT industrialization – allowing customers to provide amazing user experiences with optimized IT per...
There will be 150 billion connected devices by 2020. New digital businesses have already disrupted value chains across every industry. APIs are at the center of the digital business. You need to understand what assets you have that can be exposed digitally, what their digital value chain is, and how to create an effective business model around that value chain to compete in this economy. No enterprise can be complacent and not engage in the digital economy. Learn how to be the disruptor and not the disruptee.
Internet of Things is moving from being a hype to a reality. Experts estimate that internet connected cars will grow to 152 million, while over 100 million internet connected wireless light bulbs and lamps will be operational by 2020. These and many other intriguing statistics highlight the importance of Internet powered devices and how market penetration is going to multiply many times over in the next few years.
It is one thing to build single industrial IoT applications, but what will it take to build the Smart Cities and truly society-changing applications of the future? The technology won’t be the problem, it will be the number of parties that need to work together and be aligned in their motivation to succeed. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jason Mondanaro, Director, Product Management at Metanga, discussed how you can plan to cooperate, partner, and form lasting all-star teams to change the world and it starts with business models and monetization strategies.
The Internet of Things is not only adding billions of sensors and billions of terabytes to the Internet. It is also forcing a fundamental change in the way we envision Information Technology. For the first time, more data is being created by devices at the edge of the Internet rather than from centralized systems. What does this mean for today's IT professional? In this Power Panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists will addresses this very serious issue of profound change in the industry.
Business as usual for IT is evolving into a "Make or Buy" decision on a service-by-service conversation with input from the LOBs. How does your organization move forward with cloud? In his general session at 16th Cloud Expo, Paul Maravei, Regional Sales Manager, Hybrid Cloud and Managed Services at Cisco, discusses how Cisco and its partners offer a market-leading portfolio and ecosystem of cloud infrastructure and application services that allow you to uniquely and securely combine cloud business applications and services across multiple cloud delivery models.
In his General Session at 16th Cloud Expo, David Shacochis, host of The Hybrid IT Files podcast and Vice President at CenturyLink, investigated three key trends of the “gigabit economy" though the story of a Fortune 500 communications company in transformation. Narrating how multi-modal hybrid IT, service automation, and agile delivery all intersect, he will cover the role of storytelling and empathy in achieving strategic alignment between the enterprise and its information technology.
Buzzword alert: Microservices and IoT at a DevOps conference? What could possibly go wrong? In this Power Panel at DevOps Summit, moderated by Jason Bloomberg, the leading expert on architecting agility for the enterprise and president of Intellyx, panelists peeled away the buzz and discuss the important architectural principles behind implementing IoT solutions for the enterprise. As remote IoT devices and sensors become increasingly intelligent, they become part of our distributed cloud environment, and we must architect and code accordingly. At the very least, you'll have no problem fillin...
Growth hacking is common for startups to make unheard-of progress in building their business. Career Hacks can help Geek Girls and those who support them (yes, that's you too, Dad!) to excel in this typically male-dominated world. Get ready to learn the facts: Is there a bias against women in the tech / developer communities? Why are women 50% of the workforce, but hold only 24% of the STEM or IT positions? Some beginnings of what to do about it! In her Opening Keynote at 16th Cloud Expo, Sandy Carter, IBM General Manager Cloud Ecosystem and Developers, and a Social Business Evangelist, d...
Converging digital disruptions is creating a major sea change - Cisco calls this the Internet of Everything (IoE). IoE is the network connection of People, Process, Data and Things, fueled by Cloud, Mobile, Social, Analytics and Security, and it represents a $19Trillion value-at-stake over the next 10 years. In her keynote at @ThingsExpo, Manjula Talreja, VP of Cisco Consulting Services, discussed IoE and the enormous opportunities it provides to public and private firms alike. She will share what businesses must do to thrive in the IoE economy, citing examples from several industry sectors.
In his keynote at 16th Cloud Expo, Rodney Rogers, CEO of Virtustream, discussed the evolution of the company from inception to its recent acquisition by EMC – including personal insights, lessons learned (and some WTF moments) along the way. Learn how Virtustream’s unique approach of combining the economics and elasticity of the consumer cloud model with proper performance, application automation and security into a platform became a breakout success with enterprise customers and a natural fit for the EMC Federation.
SYS-CON Events announced today that the "Second Containers & Microservices Conference" will take place November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center, Santa Clara, CA, and the “Third Containers & Microservices Conference” will take place June 7-9, 2016, at Javits Center in New York City. Containers and microservices have become topics of intense interest throughout the cloud developer and enterprise IT communities.
SYS-CON Events announced today that the "First Containers & Microservices Conference" will take place June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City. The “Second Containers & Microservices Conference” will take place November 3-5, 2015, at Santa Clara Convention Center, Santa Clara, CA. Containers and microservices have become topics of intense interest throughout the cloud developer and enterprise IT communities.
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo in Silicon Valley. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is as "IoT-Ready" as it can be! Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place Nov 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 17th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal an...
17th Cloud Expo, taking place Nov 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy. Meanwhile, 94% of enterprises are using some form of XaaS – software, platform, and infrastructure as a service.
The 17th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. 17th International Cloud Expo, to be held November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, brings together Cloud Computing, APM, APIs, Microservices, Security, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportunity. Submit your speaking proposal today!
In his keynote at 16th Cloud Expo, Rodney Rogers, CEO of Virtustream, discusses the evolution of the company from inception to its recent acquisition by EMC – including personal insights, lessons learned (and some WTF moments) along the way. Learn how Virtustream’s unique approach of combining the economics and elasticity of the consumer cloud model with proper performance, application automation and security into a platform became a breakout success with enterprise customers and a natural fit for the EMC Federation.
The 4th International Internet of @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 17th International Cloud Expo - to be held November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA - announces that its Call for Papers is open. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the biggest idea since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago.