An application in the user's computer that retrieves data from the Internet. Written in a programming language such as C/C++ or Java, which has complete access to all the functions in the computer, the rich client program runs stand-alone without the need of a Web browser.
The First Internet 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 fluidity (see AJAX
) even though they still ran from within the Web browser. All the while, the increasing speed of the computer CPUs and Internet connections began to blur the distinction between Web-based applications and local applications for the user. See RIA
and smart client
CDEweb - Our 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 "CDEweb," a rich Windows client. The software, text and images all come from the Web, but CDEweb does not run from the Web browser. As a rich client, the program retained all the features users loved for more than a decade on their PCs with the added benefit of automatic updating.
Our rich client resides in the Windows PC like any other local application but is automatically updated from the Web.