I was reading a post by Ryan Stewart, who is my main source of news and information about anything to do with RIA (Rich Internet Applications). Wikipedia defines RIA as "web applications that have the features and functionality of traditional desktop applications." When I think of RIAs, I usually think of Adobe's Flex or Microsoft's WPF (Windows Presentation Foundation). Probably the most famous example of RIA is Flash. I also regard Ajax as a RIA, because it enables desktop app-like interactivity. But something Ryan said reminded me that there is a bit of a disconnect out there on what is a RIA exactly? Ryan wrote:
"I see a couple of big reasons RIAs have become much more popular in the past few months. One is that a good experience has become a primary requirement for the web. I don't really count Ajax as a full RIA technology, but it has raised the expectation level and made people start to wonder how much better the web can be."
Ryan doesn't see Ajax as a RIA. Perhaps because he has high standards on what an RIA app should be able to do. Ryan writes more about the topic on his personal blog; also see this post by Adobe's John Dowdell from 2005.
We all know Ajax has its limitations - Google is probably the biggest proponent of Ajax, yet its web apps have been known to cause frustration at times. I bet every user of Gmail pounds their desk whenever a page refresh problem arises.
So in order to try and get a consensus about Ajax and RIA, I've created a very simple poll. Please take a minute to tell us whether you think Ajax is a RIA technology.