Dashboards, Widgets, & Rich Internet Applications: Drawing Parallels & Differences

This week I wanted to focus on Dashboards, Widgets, and everything else that we put into a bucket called Rich Internet Applications.

There is significant overlap in all three with specific distinctions making each unique. Hopefully I can paint a picture that makes it a little easier to understand.

Consistencies Among all 3
• Generally designed to incorporate an aesthetically pleasing UI.
• Some or most data originates from a server side process or web service.
• Enables some level of configuration or customization
• Implies some type of security model
• Provides a user interface paradigm that is intuitive and simple to navigate
• Resides on the desktop outside of an internet browser which enables a user experience that requires no screen refresh.
• Incorporates Web 2.0 technologies like AJAX or Flash.

Differences

Dashboards:
• Primarily focused on presenting quantitative measures, metrics, and analytics.
• Used to visualize the most recent information available.
• Provide enough information to drive action.
• Is usually embedded or integrated into another application or portal.

Widgets

• Designed to present one or few elements on the screen at one time using minimal screen real estate
• Presents the most important or frequently monitored information or drive common tasks.
• Usually embedded or wrapped around a client side framework.

RIA

• Built to for use as a standalone client application.
• Leverages operating system specific functions in addition to server side communication and data access.

ryan@goodmangroupllc.com

Author ryan@goodmangroupllc.com

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