The developers at Google are using what people are calling 'Ajax.' Jesse James Garrett at Adaptive Path consulting in San Francisco explains it this way via his blog:
The possibilities with this are potentially amazing. "The real challenge here is not figuring out how to make the code work but thinking of interesting ways in which it can be utilized."
Google Suggest and Google Maps did shake the earth for some people at how Web Applications can be viewed and re-invented using oldER technologies. My fear is that clients will start calling and ask for these interfaces when there are still no clear designing tools around. It seems like, in today's world, everyone is not focusing on staring at angle-brackets, choosing to let the toolkits and toolsets do the walking and talking for them.
With the above said, now unless Visual Studio comes up with a designer for Web Applications close to that or can Eclipse of the J2EE world step up to the plate to be a tough challenger (and credit must be given to them for achieving tremendous strides over the past few years in catching up with the intuitiveness, productivity and the richness of VS.NET), it will still remain out of reach to most mainstream commercial developers.
Now until that happens, and not forgetting Flash gaining huge popularity (Check out this amazing Flash Application that does a one-screen registration with no effects of the http synchronous request-response showing through), does this spell the end of Smart Clients ?
Only time will tell...