What Is A Smart Client?
Smart Client applications are applications that keep most of their data on the Internet, but harness the processing power and other resources of a PC for a better user experience. You have likely used a Smart Client application.
- Many Google applications are actually Smart Client applications, such as Google Earth, Google Picasa, Google AdWords Tool, You Tube, and Mobile Maps.
- Google Gears turns many browser applications, including Gmail, into Smart Client applications. Third party applications that are Smart Clients include MySpace (Mail Search), Zoho (Writer, Mail), Remember The Milk, and Buxfer.
- Microsoft’s new Internet-based versions of the MS Office Suite (Word, Excel, Powerpoint) are all Smart Client applications.
- New Smart Cloud computing capabilities, such as Microsoft Azure, extend the Smart Client further.
These applications are quite different than traditional web-based applications. They have features that are not found in browser applications, such as drag-and-drop, undo-redo, context-sensitive help, and can handle heavy data entry requirements with navigation across multiple screens. While they use network data, they are not dependent on having a continual network connection.
So, what makes an application a Smart Client application? These applications have the following features:
- Accesses centralized data that can be coordinated across users and kept up-to-date.
- Connects to a larger distributed solution that could include a number of different web-based services.
- Capable of working with data even when off-line.
- Utilizes local resources, such as processor, memory, and disk for better performance and user experience.
- Takes advantage of locally connected devices, such as security card readers, cameras, scanners, VOIP, and bar-code and RFID readers.
- Interacts with local software, such as Microsoft Office applications.
- Installs easily – usually by clicking an icon or URL. Updates can come while the application is running.
- Scales easily because most of the work is done by the client. Smart Client application performance is the same for 100 users as it is for 10,000.
- Has device flexibility. (The .NET framework allows for multiple versions of the same application for different devices, including portable devices.
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