Rich Internet applications spur new Web frameworks and technologies

Rich Internet applications (RIAs) may be on the rise over the next eighteen months, as new Web development technologies gain ground.

According to a recent survey of (TSS) readers, interest in rich Internet applications (RIAs) is on the rise and Web application frameworks and technologies have a bright future over the next 18 months. Why is the future so bright? Because of all the shiny new technologies.

The trends in general enterprise application development frameworks are not surprising. The 2011-2012 TSS Java Trends Survey indicates Java and .NET are the top players. PHP comes in a strong third with a lot of potential for growth. Ruby, Python and Perl round out the list, but trail considerably despite their dedicated followers. 

Surprising trends emerged when TSS readers were asked which technologies they used in the past year and what technologies they plan to use over the next 18 months. While standard technologies such as JSF and Spring are holding tight in popularity, Enterprise JavaBeans (EJB) is losing ground fast. 62% of respondents said that they used EJB technology in 2011 but over the next 18 months, only 38% said they plan to continue with EJB.

Upcoming technologies for Web development are trending towards Vaadin and Wicket. Vaadin is a framework for Rich Internet Applications (RIA). Its attraction is that it imposes no problematic client browser plugins, instead running a large portion of application logic server-side. It leverages Google Web Toolkit (GWT) on the browser side to ensure a rich and fluent user experience. Wicket, an Apache framework project, is closely patterned after stateful GUI frameworks like Swing, using XHTML for templating with resources running server-side as well. 

When asked, 24% of respondents said they used Vaadin in 2011 and 31% said they used Wicket. For the next 18 months, a whopping 76% and 69% respectively said they would be using Vaadin and Wicket. GWT strongly trend upward as well with 39% who used the technology in 2011 rising to 61% for the next 18 months.

Other notables include JavaFX, jumping from 19% in 2011 to 81%, Tapestry going from 24% to 76%, and Grails from 25% usage in 2011 to 75% over the next 18 months. Scala, a multi-paradigm language integrating object-oriented programming with functional programming, is surging as well, jumping from 16% usage to 84%. It would appear as though there will be high demand for RIAs in the foreseeable future.

Perhaps the biggest and most important trend is with cloud technologies. 30% of TSS readers said they used the cloud in 2011 and 70% said they plan to use the cloud over the next 18 months. With Java EE 7, Java is finally catching up with Microsoft Azure’s .NET path to the cloud. JBoss Seam, a framework tailored for cloud deployments, also makes a strong showing with a rise from 30% to 70%.

It appears that the trend for the next 18 months will be to provide rich Internet applications that leverage cloud technologies. Interest in shiny new Web application frameworks and technologies are likely booming in response to new demands. This news bodes well for the future of Web application developers.

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