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  Exploring Laszlo Classes, Attributes, and Events
Subject:   whee...a browser emulator run in flash
Date:   2005-06-17 07:59:41
From:   satyak
Response to: whee...a browser emulator run in flash

"1. It runs slow as molasses in winter"

I am yet to try for a large project. But I am fairly confident that if I manage the client architecture well and keep it mainly gui intensive I might be able to accomplish what I need to do. I am encouraged somewhat because the laszlo demos are fairly complex and they respond reasonably well. Flash being the runtime I can imagine the process being slow. But I am hoping it will be fast enough for hybrid content.

"2. It requires you to learn its own markup language, which encourages a mixture of style, structure and logic "

Yes. It is a new language and a slightly different paradigm as well. It is either this or learn the low level graphical apis such as swing or any of its equivalents. The higher level abstractions such as XUL or XAML or LZX appeals to me because they expose higher level semantics for component based graphics programming. LZX is fairly nice and fairly easy to learn. In addition architecturally anything you learn here you may be able to apply in case of XUL or XAML or any similar technologies.

"3. I hate getting tied to a plugin when I don't need it"

I also wish I could do this (well) with out a plug in. Or even if I need a plugin, I could do this with a more general purpose plug in such as Java. There are no technical difficulties for doing this in Java on the client. But somehow I haven't had a good experience with java plugins in browsers, not to mention the increasing size of the java client. I am hoping in the near future this can be resolved and some of these technologies could use java graphics api as the base.

"4. This seems to try to side-step all standards web developers fight
for (at least some of us fight for...)"

Standards are good, but we have got to see the practical side of it as well. I have worked with SVG for sometime. We have developerd a visio like graphics package on the web using this technology. It was hard to do as the tools are lacking. But Flash seem to be the defacto standard in this space. They have more tools, more development and more traction.

"5. Now that we have href="http://freshmeat.net/search/?q=ajax§ion=projects&Go.x=0&Go.y=0">AJAX-centric
toolkits starting to show up on the scene, do we really need
something that depends on a closed-source plugin from a single company
in order to run something stylish?"

I have just started hearing about AJAX. I can't comment on this in greater detail. From what I hear using the existing technolgoies such as javascript and html it will save the roundtrips to the server. It is definitely a great fit for html applications. There are cases where I can live with the server side latency, but I want to implement such things as drag and drop, etc on the client side. A direct api that can address this (imho) is a better choice.

"6. The more complex the Laszlo app, the more my browser freezes (not
exactly running an ancient machine, either)"

Hopefully Laszlo can address these and fix them as things progress.

"I may have missed some more of its good points, but it just seems an
awful lot to me like OpenLaszlo tries to re-create a browser inside a
plugin, within the browser."

if html is originally designed with user controls in mind perhaps the browser could have been used for this. But in my mind it was meaning to solve the publishing puzzle while providing the limited set of user controls as an add on.

My goal of using Laszlo is what it is good for. Richer controls where they are needed and use html for the rest.

In my opinion there is going to be shift in GUI programming. Laszlo or XUL or XAML is not really about the client and server at all. It is a client technology. Which means I foresee a similar architecture being used for developing standalone client side applications as well. I see a higherlevel apis that sit on top of swing and provide a simpler fluid programming environment.