Tuesday, March 07, 2006

OpenLaszlo Goes DHTML

OpenLaszlo is now targeting DHTML as well as Flash as a runtime. I think this is a very interesting development. When I first looked at Laszlo, about the time it went open-source. There was some talk about the future of laszlo being in multiple runtimes. This came up more in a demonstration at the Dallas Cold Fusion usergroup when people were asking about various Flash features not supported by Laszlo.

At the time I thought it was a little bit of a cop-out to say that Flash was just the "right now" runtime and they were trying to stay flexible enough to use others. Then I assumed the obvious alternative runtime would be Java and I didn't see much point in that since Flash was smaller and more ubiquitous. Of course, since then we've had the Ajax revolution/hype-fest.

This could be a great move by Laszlo to further differentiate themselves from Flex. I haven't looked at it yet to see what the limitations are. I would think it would be harder for them to prevent outside access by custom Javascript code like they do with Flash. I'm also not sure how this will work in regards to requiring the server-side components or in using arbitrary server-side code.

As I've posted about before, I'm currently using OpenRico for my Ajax toolset. One reason I'm using that one is the ease in connecting it to the CMS used in this project, Typo3. If Laszlo requires me to use Laszlo tools on the server and the client, that might prevent me from using it in a lot of situations. This isn't meant as a strong criticism, I recognize the value in a unified client/server approach but it can be an impediment when you don't have enough control over the server or if there are legacy issues that make adding java to the server awkward.

Now that they have taken the big step to be multi-runtime, I'd like to see them keep going with it. I think the place that would most benefit from Laszlo style development would be J2ME. This is also an area that could really leverage the dynamic runtime to actually render the app differently to support different devices abilities. Combined with the smooth xml connection between the client and runtime, Laszlo could potentially be one of the best possible platforms in what could be one of the fastest growing platforms. Many of the things that might seem limiting in Flash development would be assets in J2ME and I think their existing widget/component set would be a great fit for mobile apps.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

OpenLaszlo has no server-side requirements. For more than a year, in fact, it has been possible to compile LZX applications directly to swf and deploy them from any web server -- such as apache, for example. You can even deploy an OpenLaszlo application as an email attachment. The only thing you need the server for are when you proxy things like SOAP or Java-RPC, or when you need a persistent connection.

Laszlo has no interest in locking anybody into anything. Since we give the server away for free, and don't sell any development tools, there would scarcely be any point in that. Laszlo, the company, sells training, support, and products built on the OpenLaszlo platform.


OpenLaszlo documentation

3:24 PM  
Blogger John Nicholas said...

I'm guessing this is in response to where I said "If Laszlo requires me to use Laszlo tools on the server and the client, that might prevent me from using it in a lot of situations."

I know that OpenLaszlo doesn't require the server side for swfs I just wasn't sure if it did to create the new dhtml target. I wasn't worried about it from a manipulative "tying" approach but more wondering if it was working like the way toolkits like Atlas or Xoad work. Good to hear that the DHTML runtime maintains that independence though.

6:44 AM  

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