An application in the user's computer that retrieves data from the Internet. Typically written in a traditional programming language such as C/C++ and Java with complete access to all the functions in the operating system, it typically runs stand-alone without the need of a Web browser.|
The First Web Programming - A Step Backward
As the Internet became mainstream, scripting languages were enhanced to deliver more of the functionality of regular programming languages, and AJAX came along to make Web pages work with more speed and fluidity (see AJAX) even though they still ran from within the Web browser. Microsoft also introduced Silverlight, which is an extension of the Windows user interface for developing rich client programs. See Silverlight, RIA and smart client.
Our Own Rich Client
Since 1990, the product you are currently reading, Computer Desktop Encyclopedia (CDE), has been available as a Windows application. The user sees two scrolling windows, a lookup routine and only a handful of features, but under the covers, it took more than 500 pages of C source code to create the program. The continuous scrolling of multimedia objects from A to Z requires code that must access low-level Windows functions.
In 2003, CDE was turned into a rich Windows client that does not run from the Web browser. With "CDE on the Web," the software and indexes are installed in the client one time, and all text and graphics as well as index updates come from the Web. As a rich client, the program retained all the features users loved for more than a decade on their local and LAN versions without ever having to update again. Every time users log on, they retrieve the latest definitions.
Our own rich client resides in the Windows PC, but all text, images and index updates come from a Web server.