Creating Rich Internet Applications with Modern Tools
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With the advent of small devices such as smartphones and tablets that can display web pages, there has been a growing interest in creating web pages with functionality and complexity comparable to native applications. These types of web pages are called rich internet applications. Creating rich internet applications instead of native applications that target a specific device has the potential for saving much development time as well as reaching more users. The goal of this thesis is to investigate the technology currently available for creating rich internet applications and build a prototype for Emissions, a web-based simulation tool for learning that will be used by Norwegian eighth graders to learn about space-related activities. The prototype developed will be evaluated to see if the tools that exist today are sufficient to create complex web-based applications. The prototype was developed as a pure web application in HTML5 using the WebRTC API for setting up video calls between users and a server written in Node.js for saving state and sending WebRTC signals between clients. Evaluation of the prototype found that only a few of the internet browsers available today support advanced HTML5 features such as video chatting and playback of WebM encoded video files. Based on these findings, the technology that exists today was not considered sufficient for creating complex rich internet applications that are portable across multiple platforms. However, if a less portable approach is chosen by specifically targeting a handful of modern browsers, it is possible to create rich internet applications with the same functionality as native applications.