My focus is SQL - but SQL alone does not an application build. You need (in most cases) a user interface - and the two main choices we face when architecting solutions is whether to go with web technologies with zero/small client footprint or to retain a significant client footprint. Everyone pretty much accepts:
- That some applications are best implemented with zero client footprint
- That some applications are best implemented using a significant client footprint
The trick is to make the right choice for your solution.
We used to refer to these as Web Clients and Fat Clients, then Fat became Rich and now Rich becomes Smart. An interesting question is "Is a smart client any different from the Fat clients we were writing 10 years back". The answer is "You bet!". Smart Clients make use of the latest technology to give a great developer experience AND end user experience, in a connected, occasionally connected or disconnected world. Many of the advantages you associated with Web Clients are now also offered by Smart Clients. Many of the problems you associated with Fat Clients are now removed for Smart Clients.
Smart Clients are a great choice for many/most of the applications I see while working with ISVs. I also find that many of the companies I meet are not aware of how far we have come in terms of technology as we went from Fat to Smart. Hence it is great to see that the Microsoft site has been given a major refresh. Jonathan Wells is joint editor and summarises the changes at http://blogs.msdn.com/onoj/archive/2004/12/03/274799.aspx. Well worth a read.