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Managing Offline Clients with the Smart Client Offline Application Block

The offline functionality provided by smart clients offers a lot of opportunity for developers, but there are numerous implementation approaches. The Smart Client Offline Application Block from Microsoft will disperse the confusion and let you leverage this technology in your own smart clients right away.


ich client. Fat client. Thin client. Web client. Add another to the list: the so-called smart client. But what is a smart client? A smart client:
  • Uses local CPU power
  • Communicates with Web services
  • Supports online/offline scenarios
  • Uses the device hardware
  • Provides automatic software updates
But here's a better question: Why should you use a smart client?
Running your application in the browser is like having your office in the elevator.Alan Cooper
Just because it's a popular place and gets a lot of traffic doesn't mean it offers the best environment for the work you need to do.

It reminds me of the tremendous uptake of ASP.NET shortly after the .NET Framework was announced. Because ASP.NET was first of the .NET citizens to market, many companies began using it immediately and never evaluated other technologies such as Windows Forms. But ASP.NET is not a good choice for all applications.

The biggest advantage ASP.NET has is its simple deployment. Still, ASP.NET can't provide the powerful graphical features of a Windows Forms application. And everything in ASP.NET is based on request and response messages, each of which requires a round-trip to the server. In many situations a smart client would result in more powerful and user friendly applications.

What You Need:
Visual Studio .NET 2005 Community Technology Preview (May 2004)
Smart Client Offline Application Block

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