|Rob Windsor (Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP), User Group Leader)|
Wake Up and Smell the Smart Client
I was at the Toronto office of Learning Tree International (where I teach .NET development courses) this week and I ran into Bob, a former student of mine. Bob and I started talking geek and he mentioned how excited he was about ASP.NET "Atlas" and how he couldn't wait to start using it at work. He mentioned that his company had been having some usability issues with their current intranet Web applications (remember this, it's on the test later) and that they figured ASP.NET "Atlas" would help solve them.
I had an idea that could help Bob out but I knew it was going to take some convincing.
Me:"Have you thought about building a Smart Client instead of a web application? That would solve your usability issues."
Bob: "A Smart Client? You mean a Windows application?"
Me: "Well, yes. But there's more to a Smart Client than just being a Windows app..."
Bob: "No. We haven't built Windows applications for years. We have over 200 desktops in our office alone, it's too much of a pain to deploy them. Plus, some of our machines don't have the .NET Framework."
Me: "Have you heard about ClickOnce?"
Bob: "I heard the name but I don't know what it does"
Me: "It lets you deploy Windows Forms applications almost as easily as web applications."
Bob: "No way."
Bob: "I'd have to see that."
After class that day I showed Bob the wonders of ClickOnce. It would be hard for me to replicate the experience here, so I'm going to ask that you invest a half hour or so watching Brian Noyes masterfully demo this technology on dnrTV! (http://www.dnrtv.com/default.aspx?showID=8).
The sad thing (at least, to me) is that there are lots of Bobs out there and there are lots of organizations like the one Bob works for. Deployment has been such a pain that building Windows client applications has been off the radar, companies haven't even considered it. But I'm convinced that ClickOnce is going to change that, we are going to see the mass adoption of the Smart Client in the intranet.
Think about it; rich, responsive user interfaces that can significantly boost user productivity with the ease of deployment of a web application. Ah, I love the smell of the Smart Client in the morning.
Authors note: The names of the people (except me) used in this blog post have been changed to protect their ability to get a date in the future.
Rob Windsor is an independent consultant and mentor based in Toronto, Canada. Rob focuses on the development of custom business applications using Microsoft technologies and is also an instructor for Learning Tree International where he teaches many of the courses in the .NET curriculum. Rob is a regular speaker at User Group meetings in the Toronto area and is President of the Toronto Visual Basic User Group (TVBUG). Rob has been recognized as a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) for his involvement in the developer community.