Welcome!

Microsoft Cloud Authors: Stackify Blog, Liz McMillan, David H Deans, Automic Blog, Pat Romanski

Related Topics: Machine Learning

Machine Learning : Article

Model-View-Controller and the Brave New World of Rich Internet Applications

Many Web developers haven't heard of MVC and try to design RIAs like they would design a typical HTML app

Canoo's Web 2.0 Technology Blog on Java, AJAX and Flex

Rich Internet Applications pick up the ball where plain Web applications dropped it: they promise to bring the power of desktop applications to the Web. Desktop applications almost went out of fashion with the advent of Web applications. But most people still prefer the rich user interface (UI) and interactivity of desktop applications such as Outlook compared to their Web-based siblings such as GMail and Yahoo! Mail. In many cases the convenience of ubiquity compensates for the inferior or cumbersome user interface.

MVC diagram

Client-server applications with rich user interfaces first emerged at the beginning of the nineties. Usually implemented in C++ or Smalltalk, they followed a fat-client approach, the predominant client-server architecture at this time. The principal way to organize the presentation layer of such applications was the MVC model. The concept was first proposed by Trygve Reenskaug (see http://heim.ifi.uio.no/~trygver/2007/MVC_Originals.pdf) for the Smalltalk environment. As with any proven object-oriented design, MVC splits up the responsibilities of a user interface component into domain data (Model), rendering (View), and event handling (Controller). Quite often, view and controller are merged together, though.

Today’s GUI component libraries still make use of MVC. For example, most non-trivial UI components in Swing employ some sort of MVC. However, if one tries to apply MVC to complex (form-based) applications, which is typical for desktop or Rich Internet Applications, experience shows that criteria such as clean design, maintainability, or reusability cannot be met. There are several reasons:

  1. What is the model of a form based application with a rich UI? Most developers point to the business object to be rendered in the form as the model. A form-based RIA has more model states than just the business object, though. This additional state is usually kept in the view class and increases the complexity of the view.

  2. The presentation logic of a Rich Internet Application is vastly more complex compared to a traditional Web application. The presentation logic has to deal with more events caused by extended interactivity. Another feature of RIAs is an up-to-date rendering of the presentation state. For example, UI components may be enabled/disabled or visible/invisible depending on the state of the application. This is also part of the additional model state as mentioned above. On top of that, RIAs feature instant validation (without interrupting a user’s flow of work by throwing a modal dialog into their face). This “silent” validation has to be handled (at least partly) by the presentation logic as well. Naïve design puts all of these aspects into the view class. As a result, the view class becomes overly complex, hardly reusable, and difficult to maintain.

  3. Automated testing of such view classes can only be accomplished by running the user interface. Tests are executed by triggering user events through a test tool or accessing the components through a library (e.g. Jemmy for Swing component library). This way of testing is slow and fragile: running hundreds or thousands of UI tests takes quite some time and changes to the user interface are likely to break the tests resulting in false negatives.

As a company specializing in RIA, we at Canoo have witnessed quite a few transitions from plain ugly Web applications to the brave new world of RIA. Some of our observations:

  • Typical Web developers have not heard of MVC and try to design RIAs like they would design a typical HTML application.

  • Seasoned developers who may have had some experience with fat client-server applications try to apply MVC concepts in the same way that they did in the nineties, without adapting to the new scenario.

Both approaches have their weaknesses and lead to poor results. In part two of this blog post series - “The world needs more models” - we will discuss possible remedies to this situation.

More Stories By Bruno Schaeffer

Bruno Schaeffer is Co-Founder & CTO of Canoo Technologies. Since 1997 he has been a Java developer, consultant, and architect. His areas of expertise are Web application platforms and Rich Internet Application technologies.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@ThingsExpo Stories
DevOps is often described as a combination of technology and culture. Without both, DevOps isn't complete. However, applying the culture to outdated technology is a recipe for disaster; as response times grow and connections between teams are delayed by technology, the culture will die. A Nutanix Enterprise Cloud has many benefits that provide the needed base for a true DevOps paradigm.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Hitachi, the leading provider the Internet of Things and Digital Transformation, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Hitachi Data Systems, a wholly owned subsidiary of Hitachi, Ltd., offers an integrated portfolio of services and solutions that enable digital transformation through enhanced data management, governance, mobility and analytics. We help globa...
SYS-CON Events announced today that CollabNet, a global leader in enterprise software development, release automation and DevOps solutions, will be a Bronze Sponsor of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, taking place from June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. CollabNet offers a broad range of solutions with the mission of helping modern organizations deliver quality software at speed. The company’s latest innovation, the DevOps Lifecycle Manager (DLM), supports Value S...
The 20th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo, to be held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, brings together Cloud Computing, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Containers, Microservices and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportunity. Submit your speaking proposal ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Super Micro Computer, Inc., a global leader in compute, storage and networking technologies, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Supermicro (NASDAQ: SMCI), the leading innovator in high-performance, high-efficiency server technology, is a premier provider of advanced server Building Block Solutions® for Data Center, Cloud Computing, Enterprise IT, Hadoop/...
Amazon has gradually rolled out parts of its IoT offerings in the last year, but these are just the tip of the iceberg. In addition to optimizing their back-end AWS offerings, Amazon is laying the ground work to be a major force in IoT – especially in the connected home and office. Amazon is extending its reach by building on its dominant Cloud IoT platform, its Dash Button strategy, recently announced Replenishment Services, the Echo/Alexa voice recognition control platform, the 6-7 strategic...
With billions of sensors deployed worldwide, the amount of machine-generated data will soon exceed what our networks can handle. But consumers and businesses will expect seamless experiences and real-time responsiveness. What does this mean for IoT devices and the infrastructure that supports them? More of the data will need to be handled at - or closer to - the devices themselves.
New competitors, disruptive technologies, and growing expectations are pushing every business to both adopt and deliver new digital services. This ‘Digital Transformation’ demands rapid delivery and continuous iteration of new competitive services via multiple channels, which in turn demands new service delivery techniques – including DevOps. In this power panel at @DevOpsSummit 20th Cloud Expo, moderated by DevOps Conference Co-Chair Andi Mann, panelists will examine how DevOps helps to meet th...
@GonzalezCarmen has been ranked the Number One Influencer and @ThingsExpo has been named the Number One Brand in the “M2M 2016: Top 100 Influencers and Brands” by Analytic. Onalytica analyzed tweets over the last 6 months mentioning the keywords M2M OR “Machine to Machine.” They then identified the top 100 most influential brands and individuals leading the discussion on Twitter.
Judith Hurwitz is president and CEO of Hurwitz & Associates, a Needham, Mass., research and consulting firm focused on emerging technology, including big data, cognitive computing and governance. She is co-author of the book Cognitive Computing and Big Data Analytics, published in 2015. Her Cloud Expo session, "What Is the Business Imperative for Cognitive Computing?" is scheduled for Wednesday, June 8, at 8:40 a.m. In it, she puts cognitive computing into perspective with its value to the busin...
Five years ago development was seen as a dead-end career, now it’s anything but – with an explosion in mobile and IoT initiatives increasing the demand for skilled engineers. But apart from having a ready supply of great coders, what constitutes true ‘DevOps Royalty’? It’ll be the ability to craft resilient architectures, supportability, security everywhere across the software lifecycle. In his keynote at @DevOpsSummit at 20th Cloud Expo, Jeffrey Scheaffer, GM and SVP, Continuous Delivery Busine...
In his general session at 19th Cloud Expo, Manish Dixit, VP of Product and Engineering at Dice, discussed how Dice leverages data insights and tools to help both tech professionals and recruiters better understand how skills relate to each other and which skills are in high demand using interactive visualizations and salary indicator tools to maximize earning potential. Manish Dixit is VP of Product and Engineering at Dice. As the leader of the Product, Engineering and Data Sciences team at D...
Cognitive Computing is becoming the foundation for a new generation of solutions that have the potential to transform business. Unlike traditional approaches to building solutions, a cognitive computing approach allows the data to help determine the way applications are designed. This contrasts with conventional software development that begins with defining logic based on the current way a business operates. In her session at 18th Cloud Expo, Judith S. Hurwitz, President and CEO of Hurwitz & ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Juniper Networks (NYSE: JNPR), an industry leader in automated, scalable and secure networks, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Juniper Networks challenges the status quo with products, solutions and services that transform the economics of networking. The company co-innovates with customers and partners to deliver automated, scalable and secure network...
The explosion of new web/cloud/IoT-based applications and the data they generate are transforming our world right before our eyes. In this rush to adopt these new technologies, organizations are often ignoring fundamental questions concerning who owns the data and failing to ask for permission to conduct invasive surveillance of their customers. Organizations that are not transparent about how their systems gather data telemetry without offering shared data ownership risk product rejection, regu...
Grape Up is a software company, specialized in cloud native application development and professional services related to Cloud Foundry PaaS. With five expert teams that operate in various sectors of the market across the USA and Europe, we work with a variety of customers from emerging startups to Fortune 1000 companies.
Financial Technology has become a topic of intense interest throughout the cloud developer and enterprise IT communities. Accordingly, attendees at the upcoming 20th Cloud Expo at the Javits Center in New York, June 6-8, 2017, will find fresh new content in a new track called FinTech.
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing Cloud strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @CloudExpo | @ThingsExpo, June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY and October 31 - November 2, 2017, Santa Clara Convention Center, CA. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is on the right path to Digital Transformation.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Interoute, owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017 at the Javits Center in New York, New York. Interoute is the owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform which encompasses 12 data centers, 14 virtual data centers and 31 colocation centers, with connections to 195 add...
The age of Digital Disruption is evolving into the next era – Digital Cohesion, an age in which applications securely self-assemble and deliver predictive services that continuously adapt to user behavior. Information from devices, sensors and applications around us will drive services seamlessly across mobile and fixed devices/infrastructure. This evolution is happening now in software defined services and secure networking. Four key drivers – Performance, Economics, Interoperability and Trust ...