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The Long Death of Fat Clients 277

snydeq writes "With Adobe's divestment of Flex and mobile Flash and Microsoft's move from Silverlight to Metro, Oracle now seems all alone in believing that a fat client framework — in the form of JavaFX — is a worthwhile investment, writes Andrew Oliver. 'Fewer and fewer options exist for developing purely fat client desktop applications and fewer still for RAD applications with Web-based delivery (aka, "thick clients"). We are on the verge of a purely HTML/JavaScript client world. Or we would be, if it weren't for mobile pushing us back to client-side development.'"
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The Long Death of Fat Clients

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  • Yay. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by axlr8or ( 889713 ) on Thursday June 28, 2012 @03:17PM (#40483953)
    Here I sit. On a computer with 3 versions of Java. And it is very, very confused. And, this is what I expect of Java. Weighty, slow. It's cross platform implementation is the only reason I like it. Other than that, its a resource consuming behemoth that just rings up as another diversion for how many years? As a user it's always been trouble with policy changes and updates. It's making my browser have fits. So, fat or thin, thick or emaciated I don't care much for Java. I know I don't know as much about it as you guys do.
  • Re:Um... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mcgrew ( 92797 ) * on Thursday June 28, 2012 @03:42PM (#40484457) Homepage Journal

    Isn't this whole HTML 5 business basically Browsers becoming fat clients, by your definition?

    They want all your data on their servers is why they keep pusing the "fat client is dead" meme. I doubt they'll ever give up; just like Intel was soundly trounced for suggesting something like UEFI fifteen years ago, followed by Microsoft being soundly trounced for Palladium (UEFI ten yeras ago), and now they're still at at, the bastards.

    The "fat client is dead, the cloud is better!" bullshit is no different. They want to control YOUR computer and YOUR data.

    Rise up and fight this absurd madness!

    What's worse is the "phone apps are making phones fat clients." No, what's making phones "fat clients" is the same thing as making your PC a thin client -- their desire for control over your data. "Want to listen to our radio station on your Android or iPhone? We have an app for that!" when a simple web page served to your browser should work. Point your phone's browser to WQNA [slashdot.org] and click the aac or mp3 link, you should hear them on your phone. Why can't other stations do that? (BTW, in about five hours they'll be playing ska and raggae; it's a local college station that you can never be sure what genre is going to be played. I once heard Johnny Cash followed by the Dead Kennedies on that station).

    If the data is coming from the internet, like a radio stream, you should need no app. When your data is produced locally, you should need no internet.

    Why are we letting these people from Bizarro World fuck everything up, anyway?

  • Re:Um... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by cpu6502 ( 1960974 ) on Thursday June 28, 2012 @03:50PM (#40484613)

    I can't watch youtube at work. Is there a text version of this?

    I like the old "plugin" model of web browsers. If you want to see a JPEG, install JPEGview. If you want to hear an MP3 or AIFF, install a player. Over time though I guess all these plugins have been buried inside the browser code. Now the browser is expected to do it all automatically in one large massive program that eats a gigabyte of RAM.

  • Re:Yuck! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by 2starr ( 202647 ) on Thursday June 28, 2012 @03:52PM (#40484671) Homepage
    Yes, exactly. That article is just a load of utter BS. For "exhibit A" I give you an article from half an hour earlier [slashdot.org]. Think clients are extremely hot right now in mobile apps! Use the right tool for the job. Sometimes that's a thin client, sometimes it's thick. Stop trying to tell me that one or the other is dead. Neither will be anytime soon.
  • by evilviper ( 135110 ) on Thursday June 28, 2012 @04:30PM (#40485315) Journal

    We are on the verge of a purely HTML/JavaScript client world.

    No, no we aren't. We are on the verge of WEB SITES being restricted to using WEB TECHNOLOGIES.

    It was an idiotic idea back in the '90s to believe that people WANTED to open a browser, and visit a web page, to launch their client-side apps. A local app on a fat client is still the be-all, end-all of computing.

    People may tolerate web apps, but they usually don't WANT them... They're just given no other choice by the developer, usually for reasons of ad placement. Companies like Pandora have their web app, but then have a desktop Adobe AIR version of their web app, but ONLY for PAYING customers.

    Hulu was smart enough to release Hulu Desktop to let people get away from their clumsy web interface, but they sure haven't advertised it's existence, and I'd have to call it "quite buggy" even being generous.

    Fat clients remain dominant. Smartphones aren't anything special... They just happen to be a huge new money-making opportunity, so developers aren't going to cut-corners (depending on web apps) to capture that market.

  • Re:Um... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by foniksonik ( 573572 ) on Thursday June 28, 2012 @05:15PM (#40485943) Homepage Journal

    Would you want to download and install every web based app you use to your desktop? How about every commerce site?

    Just asking. Actually want to know.

  • Re:Um... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Nethemas the Great ( 909900 ) on Thursday June 28, 2012 @06:04PM (#40486595)

    I thought I had lost this argument on ./ Good to know there are a few of us out there still retaining our sanity. HTML5/JavaScript isn't the WORA technology we should be pursuing. It works reasonably well for small, simple clients but trying to apply it to anything requiring a even modest sophistication causes them to get unreasonably expensive to develop, ensure quality, and maintain when compared to Java, C#, C++, etc. and their respective presentation technologies such as WPF and Swing. This really has less to do with "maturity" of the supporting technology and more to do with the fundamental nature of the languages.

    Part of the appeal of HTML5/JavaScript I think are the low barriers to entry, and the "pioneering" or "frontier" romanticism brought out by the anything goes, blank slate, fiddle and tinker until it works approach that's required. In many ways it actually reminds me of the appeal that Minecraft has to so many people. The mature, safe, predictable, and structured/formal languages and technologies just don't carry the same appeal.

  • Re:Um... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Cryacin ( 657549 ) on Thursday June 28, 2012 @07:11PM (#40487457)
    I think it comes down to the serious question of how much you are going to use it. For an online ordering system where you are only interesting in placing an order once every few months/years, such as business cards or something along those lines, you'd want a web experience. For something like timesheets which you use every day/multiple times a day, a desktop deploy is warranted.
  • Re:Um... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by MrSteveSD ( 801820 ) on Thursday June 28, 2012 @10:56PM (#40489591)
    I agree with you totally there. The lack of static typing (or even the option of static typing) seems to be almost universal in scripting languages. The issue goes further than just type safety and avoidable bugs though. Static typing allows you to better express your intent, not just to other programmers (which you can do with comments) but to the program itself. This makes it easy for a development environment to provide useful things like auto-completion. Auto-Complete saves so much time and also helps you broaden your knowledge of the available classes and functions.

    Another issue that sometimes pops up in scripting languages is a lack of constants. I remember bringing this issue up on a python forum and they just told me to use variables instead. When I pointed out that you could easily change the value of the "constant" in code by mistake, I was told something along the lines of "well that would be your own stupid fault."

    There seems to be a general attitude in certain circles that the basic protections you get with static typing and constants etc are somehow pointless or unnecessary. Google seems to recognise their importance though, which is no doubt why they created Dart. I believe they have been using some kind of enhanced Javascript internally for some time. I know there was a push to add things like static typing, classes etc to Javascript but it was resisted.

    It seems bizarre to me that with more and more being done in the browser, we are still stuck with a Javascript, a language that increasingly seems ill-suited to the tasks it is being used for.
  • Re:Um... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jones_supa ( 887896 ) on Friday June 29, 2012 @03:20AM (#40491075)
    I would happily install some of the big ones (Slashdot, Facebook, YouTube, etc.) as standalone applications. Especially the ones that use a lot of AJAX or Flash would benefit a lot -- at least I'm sick and tired of the sluggish bubblegum.

System checkpoint complete.