June 26, 2006

OpenLaszlo Project Blog

Here's something else I'm keeping an eye on.

Yesterday we announced a strategic partnership with the Dojo Foundation: OpenLaszlo will not only be licensing the Dojo Toolkit for use within our next major release, we will also make substantial code contributions back to Dojo for use by the entire Ajax/DHTML community.

OpenLaszlo getting into Ajax.

Here's a prediction : the two most important GUI standards in the next two years will be the Flash virtual machine and DHTML + Javascript + SVG.

OpenLaszlo is probably set to become the first major tool to develop for them both.

Macromedia have "owned" this area for a while, with Dreamweaver and the Flash tools. The question is how their expensive proprietory software model will compete against OpenLaszlo. Their advantage : good connections with the existing, mainstream web-development community. Their disadvantage, not so good connections with the rest of the developer community. Flash is still weird for programmers.

Microsoft are where? They've turned VB from a decent GUI scripting language into C# with a different syntax, and both are essentially following Java on the road to statically typed oblivion. (With the added disadvantage that these languages are being used to try to drive people onto .NET 2 and Vista)

Java Applets themselves are out of the running. Scripting languages like Python, Perl and Ruby have no real story for GUI development. Tk is from two generations ago. wxWindows is still an awkward amalgum of two third-party libraries. The Java community themselves are deserting Swing for the Eclipse library. So why would, say, a Python programmer choose Jython + Swing? (Although she might, I suppose, choose Jython + Eclipse.)

Mozilla's XUL is intriguing but has no significant support from a development environment.


Henrik Vendelbo said...

Pretty spot on. I am a big fan of strongly typed languages(with introspection & on the fly class generation), especially serverside, but on the client side JavaScript is very nice indeed. Prototyping languages are just better suited to the task.

The one thing I miss with OpenLaszlo is the toolchest. While a single-platform-provides-all is nice to start out on, what do you do when you features from other libraries?

Henry said...

I did an experiment to implement the OpenLaszlo kernel in SVG, it works pretty well. I wrote it up at the OpenLaszlo project web log.

The work we've done to separate out a simple kernel for DHTML involved creating an API to a simple "LzSprite" class which implements basic rendering and mouse event handling. At that point the code to render in DHTML for the underlying LzSprite object looked very similar to SVG (DOM model, javascript events ,etc) so it was pretty easy to mush it into using SVG instead of browser DIV objects.

Hopefully if SVG support gets a little bit better, this will be a viable runtime for Firefox and Opera certainly, not sure about Internet Explorer. Microsoft will probably drag their feet for a long while before putting in native SVG support. But there's always hope..