I spoke last night at the RTP WebSphere Users Group on the topics of Eclipse WebTools and Rich Client Platform. I think the talk went well. I measure success in two ways: number of closed eyes and number of folks who leave part way through. I counted no more than two sets of closed eyes and only one (maybe two) folks left before I wrapped up. And... there was only one open laptop that I could see. Out of a crowd of about thirty folks, that's not bad.
There were some decent questions, but one at the end threw me off. It was a pretty fundamental question that I actually have an answer for, but for some reason, I couldn't get the right words out. Perhaps it was because of how late it was in the evening after a long day of lecturing and chatting with folks at the Eclipse in Motion seminars we delivered earlier in the day ... (excuses, excuses)
"When should you use a rich client instead of a browser?"
Ian talked about this in his blog a while ago. Last night, I mumbled something about the richness of the user experience and working off line. Ian jumped in to save the day by discussing the type of users. The argument is essentially this: if your users are more on the casual side, then a web browser provides a fine interface. A good example is online banking. I don't need a rich client application to do online banking. However, a power user that sits in front of an application all day, tends to navigate with the keyboard rather than the mouse, and depends on insanely good responsiveness from the application might benefit from a rich client. A teller at the bank, helpdesk employee, or data entry clerk are potential examples. I'll have to add this to the talk.
You can download last night's presentation here.