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You have to be kidding - talking GUI and revolution in the same breath. Come on.

Okay, so there are some nifty new components - the accordion and tab widgets out front are pretty nice - but are not a revolting development. Okay, it is conceded the GUI interfaces brought to Web browsers with AJAX components from Backbase, Google, JackBe, Tibco, Yahoo UI, and upto a dozen more are very powerful and admittedly are making Web 2.0 equivalent to the GUI prowess of the PC desktop. But this has been happening for a couple of years and is more evolution than revolution. In short, where is the beef?


Cheeky, that, showing an iPhone. Okay - lots of nifty GUI stuff on a small scale. Yes, the multi-touch and GUI gestures of the iPhone have made it the darling of the Mobile set. But hardly the stuff of revolutions.

Ohh - Scientific American is featuring multi-touch as a groundbreaking IT technology. And Scientific American has been ahead of the curve on new IT technology that is going to sweep computing - 4 years ahead on micro-computers, 3 years ahead on the importance of LANs and then 2 years ahead on IP and the Internet phenomena. And Microsoft has its multi-touch Research project, Surface, and demonstrated multi-touch for its upcoming Windows 7. As usual they are way late in getting real Wow into Vista. But adding bloat on bloat. I dunno.

Okay, maybe touchscreen would be nifty. It would be a lot easier to point to the data rows I want to use or the sentences I want to highlight in that report. And my friend is already using a Wacom Cintiq tablet that allows him to Paint and Photoshop directly on the image on screen - he gave up on getting a Microsoft Tablet of equal prowess. He would change on an instant to a PC or notebook that could provide touchscreen productivity like his Cintiq touchpad or "second" screen. But again - is multi-touchscreen a revolution ?

It is if it can be done anywhere - on any OS, online and offline. Fingertip Computing.

This is RAIA. Rich Anywhere Interface Applications. RAIA brings RIA-Rich Internet Applications to any OS, any browser and on any device. Connected to the Web or not. This latter point disqualifies a broad swath of RIA Web 2.0 technologies like ASP, Icefaces, JSP, JSF, PHP, and so forth which have to have a Web server available to allow for both GUI presentation and database connections. RAIA software like Adobe AIR, Curl, Java+JavaFx, and others deliver the complete interface plus database connectivity down to the Client be it a PC, mobile phone, embedded display device, or whatever. Normally, the RAIA app runs online and through a browser. But it can run offline in stand alone mode with a local database as required.

And RAIA's are OS platform independent - Windows of all flavors including the prematurely retired Windows XP, Mac, Linux, many Unix, plus Symbian and other mobile phone OS. Think of RAIA's as bringing Java's write once run anywhere technology to the GUI/Presentation World. And the runtimes for RAIA software are getting very fast - Adobe now has a AVM2 virtual machine for Flash+AIR that is closing in on the JVM for straight data processing speed. But the key to RAIAs is the fact that they not only deliver rich content (images, fonts, audio, video, etc) but also a complete set of GUI widgets and components equal to if not better than desktop or browser RIA.

For developers RAIA is a godsend. RAIA means one programming interface to deliver GUI capabilities and apps on any OS and any device. True the syncing back of data between offline and online operations adds a new complexity; but many developers are already familiar with these needs with their database remote refreshing requirements. More critically, which software vendors are marrying RAIA with Multi-touchscreen capabilities ?

Certainly Microsoft with its multi-touch Vista due out in 2010 will be linked into its partial RAIA, Silverlight. Silverlight is only partially RAIA because Redmond has yet to commit to 1)all browsers on all OS platforms and devices; 2)offline operations on all OS platforms and devices, and 3)a full feature set on all OS platforms and devices. Meanwhile Adobe Flash developers are already developing multi-touchscreen libraries. Ditto for Java which has multi-touchscreen routines here as part of JavaFx.

Summary

This GUI/Presentation Revolution started with the RIA Web 2.0 phenomenon. This proved the concept that the same PC GUI features could be brought to the Web browser. But not just Windows Web browsers but any OS platform Web browser. That is one of the attractions of RIA - I get the same YUI or Backbase look and feel with Safari on Mac or Firefox on Linux or Opera on Symbian or IE on Windows. But the problem with RIA is a)its is still lacks offline as well as online operations and b)there are so many competing and overlapping Web 2.0 RIA frameworks.

In contrast RAIA's like Adobe Air and Java JavaFx bring cross platform and online or offline operation to the fray. Inherently running as part of a multi-touchscreen OS, RAIA's will be enabled for basic multi-touch operations. But as noted above two of the major RAIA vendors are planning to take advantage of multi-touchscreen with programmatic control as well.

So this is the upcoming GUI Revolution. RAIA with multi-touchscreen gives:

1)users the same look and feel regardless of the device/display being used - thus cutting down their learning curve or adjustment to new devices or environs;
2)but users will also get unique features for specialized devices;
3)the convenience of being able to point to menus, data and components and manipulate them with simple, intuitive gestures;
4)and developers able to write once for all devices, PCs, and OS the same basic code bringing Java-like coding to the GUI/Presentation world and replacing the current horrendous mishmash of costly/hard-to-maintain code that is PC versus Mac versus Web versus mobile programming.

So obviously RAIA will not bring absolute GUI display programming independence since each device will have unique capabilities, but the change to a prevailing common base of code with direct, multi-touchscreen operation, that will be a revolution.

Expect more revolting coverage here.