Want to understand what is happening in technology? You need to read Stephen O’Grady ’97. Example:

Once upon a time, the notion of delivering application functionality over the web seemed fanciful. The misguided thinking of some web zealots. I should know, having worked in shops that did both client/server and portal/web development. Shops that left me similarly skeptical (in the distant past).

But of course that was then, and this is now. The application landscape circa 2007 is, of course, heavily web oriented. As some of the gray beards in our midst have pointed out, it’s as if we’ve come full circle back to our green screen mainframe days. The more things change, the more they stay the same. And so on.

Over the last quarter or more, however, we’ve seen a resurgence in interest in what are often termed Rich Internet Application technologies, or RIA. Between the high profile vendor announcements (Apollo, JavaFX, and Silverlight) and some lower profile alternatives (RCP, XULRunner), the number of available paths for would be web application developers to walk down are proliferating rapidly. That much is clear.

What’s less clear is where some of these paths might lead to, the degree to which they stray from the major web thoroughfare, and what it might cost over the longer term to walk them. Or, in some cases, why there’s a separate path in the first place.

While I’m certainly not in a position to answer all of the above, perhaps by exploring some of the questions in more detail we can make tracks towards some answers.

Read the whole thing. You are bound to understand more than I did.

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