Rich web clients - too many options I'm afraid
I haven't posted about the paradox of choice after reading it earlier this year, but I really enjoyed it: Barry Schwartz explains how having too many options makes our 21st century lives much more stressful and our choices much harder. Very true - I think being able to make hard choices and not regret them later is a very important skill in today's world.
It's not that bad for me in this case, but I'm looking at rich web client options for a new project, and the choice is not easy. Have a look at my short list:
OpenLaszlo's demos have the best looks and interactivity by far, and Flash is everywhere. On the other hand, it's very unfamiliar as a language. Very tempting but it would take some betting on where we're going to be in three years.
XUL has been around longer, it takes a while to understand what goes where but examples such as the Mozilla Amazon Browser are very convincing. Problem is, people who don't have the best browser around would need to install it. Wouldn't harm them much though.
JGoodies shows that it is possible to write good-looking and usable java client applications, and delivering them via Java Web Start works well. I've been there already a few years ago with verbalix so this is another valid option, maybe the less risky of all in technical terms.
XmlHttpRequest is making the news once again due to its adoption for the Google suggest beta (dissected here). The big advantage is that this works with most current browsers witout additional components. It's a bit of a new territory as well, but some server-side glue would certainly help.
Too often, software = hard choices, really.