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Build Rich, Thin Client Applications Automatically Using XML : Page 4

There are new products afoot that let you do highly graphical client-side applications without the performance headaches of applets or the security concerns of ActiveX. Find out what these XWT-based technologies can do.

Community-built XWT
Another player in this space is XWT, an open source initiative that you can download from http://www.xwt.org. XWT gives you either a Java-based or ActiveX-based runtime, and has the peculiar implementation of having to run off a server. This means that the XWT runtime has to be on a server and the configuration that you want to launch is passed to that server as a parameter. The configuration is an XML file, but it has to be zipped up in a special .XWAR file along with all of its dependencies. You then launch your application using http://server_hosting_runtime/URI_of_XWAR.

XWT has a flexible scripting model, using Javascript to process actions instead of the property pattern that Bambookit utilizes. It can also communicate with middleware using RPC or SOAP.

Other players in this space are XUL (http://www.mozilla.org/xpfe/xptoolkit/xulintro.html and http://www.xulplanet.com), Luxor, Thinlets, JEasy. There is also an obvious overlap with the standards development with XForms and Microsoft's InfoPath (formerly known as XDocs).

It may turn out that the flurry of activity around this concept is pointing towards an important future for developers. With the decoupling of presentation from implementation, new skillsets will need to be learned. At present, hand-coding of the XML documents to define the interfaces—lor the middleware servers to generate the interfaces—is still necessary, but as time unfolds, IDE packages will have UI designers that compile to an XML format. With no firm standard currently in place, it remains to be seen what that format will be.

Laurence Moroney is a freelance enterprise architect who specializes in designing and implementing service-oriented applications and environments using .NET, J2EE, or (preferably) both. He has authored books on .NET and Web services security, and more than 30 professional articles. A former Wall Street architect, and security analyst, he also dabbles in journalism, reporting for professional sports. You can find his blog at http://www.philotic.com/blog.
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