Why does ‘rich client’ equal ‘bad separation of presentation from content’?
I started writing this post back when doing tech editing the “Rich Client Alternatives” chapter on Web 2.0, the book. Now, with Apollo getting some attention, it’s worth revisiting.
What do XUL, Yahoo! Widgets, OpenLaszlo, Silverlight, and Apollo have in common? All of them mix content with presentation to some degree. Years of experience on the web have shown that a properly-done CSS layout gives you:
- smaller, faster pages
- better accessibility and user control of rendering
- better adaptation to different screen resolutions
- easier repurposing of data, including microformats
- better mobile compatibility
Initial HTML browsers didn’t have these advantages, and gave in to early pressure to implement things like blink and font tags. Today, most webfolks would admit that these presentational tags were a mistake, and contemporary web design avoids them.
So what is it about “rich” clients that’s different? Are developers missing out on the hard lessons learned on the web? Or is there something inherent in the definition of “rich clients” that changes the balance? Your comments are welcome. -m