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Good summary, Bob. I know that IE is a fat application but
it takes the place of multiple fat clients, so it thins the
desktop. XAML etc, enable the developer to fatten or thin
at their own discretion. This opens up the competition.
You also astutely note that surrendering to the browserIsKing
architecture made it possible for MS to dominate. Netscape
and others simply did not believe that their technology would
be that easy to duplicate then best. They bet against XML.
They were wrong on both counts. They lost.
Now it is a battle of frameworks and the web is standard network
plumbing. That puts us back in circa 1990 as far as innovative
thinking goes. This means choices for developers, but what
does it mean for their customers? Is it MAC86 withhout the
rigorous MAC rules for building clients that ensured a common
look and feel?
The rich client define the ecosystem of the application domain niche whose
rules and conventions they encapsulate. That frees up the
developer to take initiative but it also makes the developer
responsible for creating an experience appropriate to the user
rather than defaulting to the lowest common denominators that
It means that the developer has to learn or relearn how to load
balance between the local machine and the server machine wherever
these are different. It means the REST architecture is not the
whole of the law (XAML enables non-URI object addressing).
The more interesting bit about XAML is the extensibility of the
language by adding objects. This is exciting and maybe perilous.
From: Bob Wyman [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Claude L Bullard wrote:
> Why would one want to use a fat client on the web?
> Are these really fat clients?
Virtually *everyone* uses a "fat client" everytime they access
the Web. What the heck do you think Internet Explorer is? Are you
suggesting that it is "thin?" (No, it's one of the "fattest" clients
you can find...)
The question isn't whether something is fat or thin. The more
interesting thing to look at is what, if anything, causes people to be
uncomfortable about having more than a one or a small number of fat
clients on their desktops. Well, it turns out that fat clients
typically impose their own view of integration patterns, UI standards,
keyboard conventions, storage locations, etc. Fat clients are
law-makers... They are much more than "big" or "hard to install." Fat
clients are powerful in their effect on the eco-system of the desktop.
They define their environment rather than simply accept what is there.
This is the root of many of the "problems" that we have on the desktop
today and it is a source of much of the power that has been given to
Given the "law giver" role of fat clients, the "thin client"
proponents basically give up control of the desktop to the fat client
builders (Microsoft, etc.) when they argue for thin clients. By
arguing against fat clients, you take yourself out of the collection
of people who might build or influence a law-giver. By doing so, you
empower those who build fat clients.