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What is OpenLaszlo, and What is it Good For?

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 8 years ago | from the things-to-play-with dept.

196

SimHacker writes to share an article he wrote recently that tries to answer the question; What is OpenLaszlo, and What is it Good For? From the article: "OpenLaszlo is an open source platform for developing user friendly web based applications, which work identically across all popular browsers and platforms (Windows, Mac, Linux, IE, Firefox, Safari, etc). It's ideal for presenting and editing raw XML data generated by PHP and other web services."

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Drupal (3, Funny)

dotslashdot (694478) | more than 8 years ago | (#15384197)

That cross dressing site management software "Drupal" says too many connections.

Mirror up (2, Informative)

SimHacker (180785) | more than 8 years ago | (#15384624)

Owch! I restarted apache and mysql, made a static text mirror of the drupal page, and RewriteRuled it into place at the original url: http://www.donhopkins.com/drupal/124 [donhopkins.com] Now maybe you can fetch the article, I hope.

Sorry about the embarassing Dru Paux.

-Don

Open Laszlo is SHIT! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15384198)

It's good for nthing.

/. effect (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15384203)

It's been /.ed

its the most simple interface of all.. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15384206)

"Too many connections"..

-Sj53

Zero to Slashdotted (4, Funny)

grasshoppa (657393) | more than 8 years ago | (#15384208)

Zero to slashdotted in no comments flat.

Re:Zero to Slashdotted (3, Funny)

Kuxman (876286) | more than 8 years ago | (#15384285)

their server: "What is it good for? Absolutely nothing!"

Re:Zero to Slashdotted (1, Funny)

Anne_Nonymous (313852) | more than 8 years ago | (#15384299)

Say it again... Uh huh...

Re:Zero to Slashdotted (2, Funny)

theantix (466036) | more than 8 years ago | (#15384346)

That's okay, you can always check mirrordot. [mirrordot.org]

uh...

Re:Zero to Slashdotted (4, Funny)

hdparm (575302) | more than 8 years ago | (#15384886)

You new here?

That's because slashdoters generally rush over to read TFA and other stuff linked from TFA, so they can post informed and meaningful comments.

I don't mean to troll... (2, Informative)

celardore (844933) | more than 8 years ago | (#15384213)

Sometimes I find this AJAX movement annoying. Not because of the new technologies emerging, and not because of the amount of people wanting to learn it. I find it more annoying because of the whole dumbing down initiative.

Work a little harder, learn a little more and create something a lot more intuitive.

yeah man (1)

bunions (970377) | more than 8 years ago | (#15384262)

Drag and drop and accordion panes are totally unintuitive.

hyperlinks, tables and full page refreshes were good enough for my grandpappy and they're good enough for me!

Dumbing Down? (1, Insightful)

briancnorton (586947) | more than 8 years ago | (#15384355)

When you say "Dumbing Down" do you mean making it usable? Are you the same guy that uses vi because it does the same thing as notepad? Usability creates acceptance. There is no reason to make things complicated if they don't have to be. As a fairly literate computer user, I still want simple things to be simple to do.

Re:Dumbing Down? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15384448)

For the record, saying that vi does the same thing as notepad is like saying a tank is the same thing as a VW Bug. Just because you could theoretically drive both to the mall doesn't mean a) you should or b) there's not a lot more under the hood in one than the other.

vi is not appropriate for everything, but for many people who program for a living, it's a godsend for efficiency's sake. And when those deadlines are getting close, being able to hit 5cw instead of mouse-highlighting saves more time (and wrist movement) than you'd think.

Re:Dumbing Down? (3, Insightful)

mangu (126918) | more than 8 years ago | (#15384609)

Are you the same guy that uses vi because it does the same thing as notepad?


I'm the guy that uses vi because I could never guess how to make notepad do the simplest things one could imagine. Like indenting a function, showing code with syntax highlight or moving to the start of the next block.


Those things that every programmer does all the time and are so simple in vi and so impossible to do in notepad.

Re:I don't mean to troll... (2, Informative)

Rdickinson (160810) | more than 8 years ago | (#15384374)

OpenLaszlo has nothing to do with AJAX per se.

Its an XML based programing language, fully OO, using javascript, which is then rendered to target platforms, currently Flash or DHTML.

Re:I don't mean to troll... (1)

misleb (129952) | more than 8 years ago | (#15384475)

"XML based programming language" is an oxymoron.

-mattew

Re:I don't mean to troll... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15384673)

There are many XML programming languages... it's just a syntax with hierarchy. Even the people who came up with XML created an XML programming language (XSL-T).

Re: I don't mean to troll... (4, Insightful)

Graboid (975267) | more than 8 years ago | (#15384400)

You say that like it's a bad thing.

Dumbing down IT programming (and IT in general) has been a huge trend throughout the industry for years. I remember teaching Fortune 100 financial analysts Visual Basic and how to hook up to an Oracle stock database we built and they were on cloud nine. Later our secretaries setup and maintained our department's homepage - it was great and really represented a milestone in our company as well as a symbolic milestone within IT.

The future of IT is all about dumbing down so technology just becomes a part of everyday life - not some uber-geeky medium that takes years to master. Letting 'normal' folks develop and support websites moves content from an IT shop to the business folks where it belongs!

Re:I don't mean to troll... (1)

tenchiken (22661) | more than 8 years ago | (#15384405)

Honestly, Zimbra (which is AJAX based) is one of the most exciting and intuitive applications I have seen yet. The Zimbra model (where the front end is a completly seperate application independent of the backend) really raises the bar on what the web experience should be whil managing data. Note, that AJAX is usually a poor choice for the read only web which seems to be what you are highlighting here.

Re:I don't mean to troll... (4, Insightful)

colmore (56499) | more than 8 years ago | (#15384454)

Lowering the entry barrier is always a good thing. When C compilers got good enough that applications could be written with only a minimum of assembly, people groaned about the same thing. There's a lot of hype right now, and a lot of interest, things will settle down.

All of these frameworks and libraries and doohickies come about for a simple reason: web application programming is too complicated. Given the relatively simple functionality being designed, coding an (even non-AJAX) webapp is a pain in the ass involving a mostly stateless system running 4 or 5 languages. The techniques for getting around this problem are relatively cookie cutter, and we really should no more be coding them by hand than we should be rolling our own printf every time we write a terminal utility.

There's more creativity and action in interactive online software than ever before, and it's nothing but a good thing.

Re:I don't mean to troll... (2, Insightful)

mcrbids (148650) | more than 8 years ago | (#15385134)

Given the relatively simple functionality being designed, coding an (even non-AJAX) webapp is a pain in the ass involving a mostly stateless system running 4 or 5 languages.

Right. So let's pile on another language to solve this problem. It would be really cool, hip, and exciting, and will be the grand mother of all abstractions, solving all our problems by providing a consistent, smooth interface into all sorts of technologies, ensuring that:

1) Debugging a language change from version x.4.1 to x.4.2 is damned near impossible,

2) Doing any kind of performance tuning is laughable,

3) Forces you to write things in such an abstract way that you can't take full advantages of the tools you do have available,

4) Sounds "enterprisey".

As a language, it will take other languages (like flash, dhtml, xml, sql, asm) and compile them. It will be glorious! (as soon as all the bugs are worked out)

I say we should give this new meta-meta-meta language the name "Laszlo"!

Security? (2, Insightful)

vanyel (28049) | more than 8 years ago | (#15384219)

Security restrictions prevent the Flash player from fetching XML from hosts other than the one it do wnloaded the SWF file from. It requires a crossdomain.xml permission file to exist on other servers from which Flash downloads content or calls web services.

The solution is for the OpenLaszlo Server or PHP to act as a proxy for other servers.

Isn't there a reason for that? I would like to see something that specifically addresses the security issues here...

Re:Security? (1)

Klaruz (734) | more than 8 years ago | (#15384286)

The reason is so the flash app doesn't go trading data with servers you didn't explicitly go to. It's the same reason java won't load classes off servers other than the one you went to. If you're proxying the request out somewhere else on your server farm, then you're vouching for that content, since it looks like it came from you. It would be pretty silly to do unless you controlled the content, since a malicious server operator could do some nasty stuff to your users.

Re:Security? (1)

vanyel (28049) | more than 8 years ago | (#15384317)

It would be pretty silly to do unless you controlled the content

Exactly. And how many people has that stopped?

Re:Security? (1)

Klaruz (734) | more than 8 years ago | (#15384449)

I've used a proxy plenty of times to hit backend systems, it's a good tool. I think it even says all over the mod_proxy docs that you should be careful not to hit stuff you don't control, or leave it wide open.

There are hundreds of other things that people do too, like open urls on arbitrary servers with their php code that aren't safe. That doesn't mean I want the developers to remove the ability to do that when I decide it's safe to do.

Re:Security? (1)

vanyel (28049) | more than 8 years ago | (#15384492)

I'm actually not arguing different either: I meant literally what I said: they need to have a section that specifically discusses the security ramifications of various aspects of the environment, proxying being an obvious point to address. Rather like the IETF requiring Security Considerations in RFCs for quite some time now...

Re:Security? (1)

tenchiken (22661) | more than 8 years ago | (#15384392)

Because of the popularity of Mash Ups. Ie, I want to be able to pull a list of books from Amazon, or a shipping status from FEDEX using Zimbra. Zimbra and Laszlo both have a model where the front end applicaiton is completly distinct (as it should be IMHO) from the backend. Hence, more funtionality is needed.

On the other hand, I would like to see Browser manufacturors add the ability to do cross site calls, but with some security system behind it.

Re:Security? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15384698)

The <script src="" .../> tag can access any domain at any time.

Re:Security? (1)

SimHacker (180785) | more than 8 years ago | (#15385164)

Oh yeah that's the ticket. I was confused about the XMLHTTPRequest allowing that. Apparently it doesn't let you load XML from different domains, while you CAN load and execute JavaScript from any domain. That's one of the reasons JSON is practical (or subversive).

Isn't it weird that web browsers let you load and execute JavaScript from any domain, but you can't do the same with XML? What's up with that?

-Don

Re:Security? (2, Informative)

SimHacker (180785) | more than 8 years ago | (#15384450)

The "reason" is just "that's the way Flash is, and Macromedia says it has something to do with security". I'm not claiming that it's a good excuse or a well thought out security model. Most browsers will let you fetch XML from other sites with XMLHTTPRequest, and Flash lets you fetch images from other sites but not XML. I can understand restricting executable SWF files, but Flash never actually executes the XML as code, so I never understood why Flash restricts XML but not images.

Of course OpenLaszlo applications compiled for DHTML won't be restricted by Flash's bizarre half-baked security model. Just the browser's bizarre half-baked security model.

-Don

Re:Security? (2, Informative)

JahToasted (517101) | more than 8 years ago | (#15384632)

First of all, I think xmlhttprequest can only access stuff on the same server too, it would be a major security hole if it didn't.

You're not thinking like a malicious hacker. Let's say I want to DDOS example.com. I find some popular webserver that's not exactly secure, lets say newestfad.com. Then I make a comment has a little javascript that requests a large file (or does a database intensive search) from example.com. Now everyone that loads up newestfad.com with my attached comment also loads that file from example.com. I could take it a step further and add that comment to every page on newestfad.com. Since newestfad.com doesn't have the sharpest admins, it might be a while before they fix it so that you can't insert javascript into comments. Meanwhile, example.com is being killed just because the developers at newestfad.com don't know what they're doing.

The same could be done with flash, though you'd probably have to make a trendy game that included the DOS code.

You don't think these things happen? Why do you think slashdot's search sometimes uses google, instead of their own native algorithm? It's because someone has jammed some iframes in some comments on a poorly done website that requests slashdot search through its comments. this hammers the database and kills slashdot. So they have to disable searching and use google for searching until the site that's causing the requests gets their act together.

Macromedia is doing the right thing here. And you can easily have your own server just pass along the request to another server. prevents DDOS attacks.

Re:Security? (1)

jubei (89485) | more than 8 years ago | (#15384703)

You can easily enough use javascript to manipulate the DOM and send data to any server by changing a url, so what's the point in locking it down?

The only good reason I have heard so far is that if you allowed XMLHttpRequest to hit random servers, you could make a port scanner. The difference is that the XML request has a return code and the img url manipulation gives no feedback.

Flash dance. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15384222)

Of course it generates everyone's favourite whipping boy. Flash!

Google Cache (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15384228)

Google Cache [64.233.161.104] anonymous and all that

will it help? (4, Funny)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 8 years ago | (#15384231)

Will it help me win all the prizes in a big sweepstakes?

Re:will it help? (1)

kingmundi (54911) | more than 8 years ago | (#15384318)

No,
only 32.4% of the total prizes.

Re:will it help? (1)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 8 years ago | (#15384337)

Okay, so long as the camper and model are included.

Re:will it help? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15384338)

Yes, 32.4% of the prizes, including the RV

Re:will it help? (1)

DAE51D (776260) | more than 8 years ago | (#15384726)

What an awesome but obscure reference... I wonder how many people really knew what you were talking about, or simply just read and dismissed it. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0089886 [imdb.com] for those that want to "get it" too...

here's a site that will help (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15385262)

... that is, help you get around being bored by the now-slashdotted, currently unreadable website pushing the story mentioned in the parent post.

In fine off-topic form, with absolutely no relevance to the site mentioned above (which none of us can read anyway):
http://www.wheresmyho.com/ [wheresmyho.com]

It's a website to find hookers. Like, as a web service or something. Looks like a joke site to me, albeit a different kind of joke (and imho, a funnier one) than the server that's powering the story at http://www.donhopkins.com/drupal/node/124 [donhopkins.com]

Re:will it help? (1)

ChrisKnight (16039) | more than 8 years ago | (#15385535)

Only 33.6 percent, and the RV of course.

-Chris Knight

Not for sites expecting a slashdotting... (0, Offtopic)

pavera (320634) | more than 8 years ago | (#15384235)

I don't know what it is good for, but I'd have to say its not good for:

Sites that you might want to withstand a slashdotting.

Seriously never seen a site down so fast, the first comment was about how it was slashdotted.

Wrong layer (1)

xeno-cat (147219) | more than 8 years ago | (#15384410)

Silly comment. Do you have any idea what there server setup is? Didn't think so. Laszlo is the development platform, not the load balancing or caching layer. Thats where you can piss and moan about Slashdottings.

Now does every site need to worry about the drooling Slashdot hords when 99.999 percent of all their other traffic is handled perfectly by their existing setup? Nope.

Kind Regards

HUH! Yeah, absolutely nothing, listen to me (0, Troll)

pla (258480) | more than 8 years ago | (#15384247)

Seriously, the summary lacks something... like "how does this differ from Emacs/VI"? I can edit HTML or XML just fine in Emacs or VI. I can run them on just about any platform in existance. The results (at least, with me as the creator) support every browser that at least basically conforms to the W3 standards.


With apologies to Edwin Starr.

Re:HUH! Yeah, absolutely nothing, listen to me (4, Insightful)

SirSlud (67381) | more than 8 years ago | (#15384388)

Its not edit, like YOU edit the XML, its edit as in have non-programmers edit data. You can use Lazlo to build web apps using SWF or DHTML for the view layer, and from my experience, Lazlo is makes quite a nifty RAD web platform to provide the view/edit layer for XML data (and under that, the database layer.) Others have pointed out that your Lazlo app can speak directly to java applications as well. Its an extremely thin platform to provide a really rich user experience on, with minimal re-inventing-the-wheel overhead.

> The results (at least, with me as the creator) support every browser that at least basically conforms to the W3 standards.

What do you want, a gold star? Why is this site full of programmers who discount new tools to add to the toolbox out of hand? Lazlo is pretty neat. I was a distributed web application programmer for a long time (FreeBSD, CORBA), now I write games for consoles like the PS2 ... if I didn't have tools to make my job easier, and had to do everything in vi just to prove I could, I'd go crazy. I think programmers who are so self-contented with being able to do things the 'hard-core' way just because they can are seriously missing the point. I can do everything you can do, but the more important question is why would I want to? Sure, I still use vi from time to time, but only when it makes sense to do so. I'm open to anything from vi to Visual Studio, as long as it saves me time and makes it easier for me to make my knowledge more valuable to people around me.

Re:HUH! Yeah, absolutely nothing, listen to me (1)

SimHacker (180785) | more than 8 years ago | (#15384524)

Programming OpenLaszlo compared to writing raw DHTML/JavaScript/AJAX is like the difference between writing assembly language, and writing in a high level language like Python or Lisp.

It saves you a lot of time, and enables you to write and configure reusable components instead of re-inventing the wheel each time.

-Don

Re:HUH! Yeah, absolutely nothing, listen to me (1)

SimHacker (180785) | more than 8 years ago | (#15384560)

Sorry for the backwards metaphore. I meant OpenLaszlo is to raw DHTML/JavaScript/AJAX as Lisp/Python/etc are to Assembly Language.

-Don

Fantastic for thin client development (4, Interesting)

siberian (14177) | more than 8 years ago | (#15384251)

Since Laszlo apps can be output either as DHTML or as SWF contained content it works wonders for embedded development.

I'm building a small embedded linux based system to handle my A/V switching infrastructure in my home. The box itself can be considered a toaster, very much like a LinkSys router. Combining thttpd, Ruby (small footprint with Ruby2exe) serving POX(Plain Ole XML) and then Laszlo as the SWF contained client I can provide a hugely rich experience for the user on my minimalistic embedded platform.

The Eclipe IDE tools are 'Ok' and do the job well enough at the start but you'll need to tweak it a bit more to get a really solid look.

Overall this is a fantastic alternative to Adobe Flex in many ways, particularly in its openness, huge community support and low/no cost. Flex 2.0 is also low low cost now but we will see how that plays out.

So, for me Laszlo is Rich App on a thin client primarily. Very nice.

Fantastic for skinny client development (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15384309)

"So, for me Laszlo is Rich App on a thin client primarily. Very nice."

Hey! Give me back my words. :) Seriously I see this running on one of those reflashed Linksys NAS servers. The back-end is talking with everything else on the local net, and the front-end can either be a browser, or Macromedia's stand-alone player.*

*There's also one thing no one has done yet. Get Laszlo to spit out XUL.

Re:Fantastic for skinny client development (1)

siberian (14177) | more than 8 years ago | (#15384319)

I'm using the JJPlus Linux Appliance (linux.jjplus.com).

Great little machine, I highly recommend it.

slashdotted (1)

phiber9 (943697) | more than 8 years ago | (#15384258)

as others have reported, it's already slashdotted. coral cache has the same page (http://www.donhopkins.com.nyud.net:8080/drupal/no de/124) but, is this [openlaszlo.org] maybe it?

From GTA3?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15384261)

Okay, is like no one going to make the connection between GTA3's Laszlo from Chatterbox and this so-called "OpenLaszlo"? I think I'm going to call in and tell him about this!

From a year long coder in Laszlo (5, Informative)

spoco2 (322835) | more than 8 years ago | (#15384274)

Firstly, Google cache [72.14.203.104] .

I've been coding in Laszlo for almost a year now for a new product my company is launching soon, and I have to say it's a great language to use. A very easy way to create great web applications while still being able to write completely Object Orientated code... There's absolutely zero need to code in a WYSIWYG style method ala visual basic or the like, our application dynamically loads in its objects and layout from a db, completely configurable... it's all very nice.

The article itself is quite a nice summary of what Laszlo is I suppose. It does seem to harp on a bit about PHP as a back end, when there is nothing tying laszlo to php at all... we were using Ruby, now we're using Java, and are able o talk directly to Java classes from within Laszlo code using a JavaRPC structure. As the Laszlo server is a Java app, it all sits together nicely.

Also it's good to see it mentioning the alternate runtime of DHTML which is currently able to be played with at Openlaszlo.org [openlaszlo.org] (currently in pre-beta). So, in the future you'll be able to write your code and chose to render it to Flash OR DHMTL or Both... it's all very nice.

Is there anything that people who are interesting in Laszlo would like to know from someone who's been coding in it for a while? As while I'm not a zealot of it or anything, I do like it a lot, and just would love to see as many people as possible using it. :)

Re:From a year long coder in Laszlo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15384336)

I'd love to see more examples of it in use on the web. Ideally, real-world functional product examples, not just canned demos (which I admit look quite nice)

Re:From a year long coder in Laszlo (3, Informative)

spoco2 (322835) | more than 8 years ago | (#15384438)

Did you see Pandora [pandora.com] listed in the article? That's a fully fledged, and nice app. Also Laszlo mail is installed as the default webmail for Earthlink subscribers? And of course... there's this [openlaszlo.org] list of apps! :)

Grammar nitpick (1)

Acy James Stapp (1005) | more than 8 years ago | (#15384421)

It's not "Object Orientated". It's "Object Orientificamated"

Re:Grammar nitpick (1)

Moofie (22272) | more than 8 years ago | (#15384577)

I think you misspelled "Object Orientatifimicitatistified".

Re:From a year long coder in Laszlo (1)

NovaX (37364) | more than 8 years ago | (#15384526)

- I like the idea of using JavaServer Faces and renderkits, so you can easily migrate to different presentation technologies. Did you write directly to Lazlo's API or use a renderkit-type method? IBM has a Lazlo-JSF renderkit and that seems like the best way to go in that world.

- If you're writing to the API, how tied to it are you? With a rederkit, you can quickly make changes from a web-browser to a PDA, with the components taking care of the display issues. Is display migration an issue?

- How is performance? I've always found the examples on OpenLazlo to be slow, limitted, and not seem to be very useful in the real world.

- How much time have you spend on the UI versus other techniques (e.g. DHTML/AJAX)? If longer with Lazlo, do your customers see your UI as value-added? Does it reduce your time from working on the core business-logic?

There's some questions for you. :)

Re:From a year long coder in Laszlo (4, Insightful)

spoco2 (322835) | more than 8 years ago | (#15384640)

- I like the idea of using JavaServer Faces and renderkits, so you can easily migrate to different presentation technologies. Did you write directly to Lazlo's API or use a renderkit-type method? IBM has a Lazlo-JSF renderkit and that seems like the best way to go in that world.

Laszlo's code is not tied completely to an actual final renderpath... ie. while currently your only option is flash, as can be seen on their homepage, they have a working DHTML output that works as well... and the idea is that the code you write is independant of what output it finally has.

We code in Laszlo's mixture of XML and Javascript, and it compiles that to Flash for rendering. The final output may be in a browser, may be on a phone, or whatever.

- If you're writing to the API, how tied to it are you? With a rederkit, you can quickly make changes from a web-browser to a PDA, with the components taking care of the display issues. Is display migration an issue?
OK, so we're writing our own 'renderkit' if you will... we're using a modification of the Visual Proxy methodology [javaworld.com] and as such our final display objects can be changed and modified based on what it's rendering to. But we do use a number of the inbuilt Laszlo visual components (windows, buttons, sliders and the like)... but as they render in flash, anything you can run flash on, they'll run on.

- How is performance? I've always found the examples on OpenLazlo to be slow, limitted, and not seem to be very useful in the real world.
Performance is always something that we battle with, but we're trying to manipulate hundreds of linked visual objects onscreen at one time, with many calculations running in the background. You have to be tricky here and there, but you can do some amazing things. Basically, the limitations are not really a result of Laszlo as such, but the fact that you're running an app within a web browser, and you always have to be conscious of that. The more you use it though, the more you learn the tricks to get a great user experience... I would hate to be trying to do this in DHTML.

- How much time have you spend on the UI versus other techniques (e.g. DHTML/AJAX)? If longer with Lazlo, do your customers see your UI as value-added? Does it reduce your time from working on the core business-logic?

(First up... this is AJAX, very much so it's Asynchronous Javascript and XML)
We spend a fair amount of time on the UI, but only because the main thrust of our app is presenting a whole lot of data in a visual way that the users can interact with in different ways to any other applications in this space... so it's a large portion of the appeal of this app. That it's targetted at the Marketing teams of companies means that it should be easy to use and appealing to work with, hence the flash interface.

We have coded other PHP/Javascript/DB applications for clients (we have one being finished up at present), and while they're nice to work with etc. And do take less time to initially code they have a number of drawbacks:
* Maintenance is harder as writing directly for HTML output means trying to be cross-browser friendly, which results in solutions for each of the major browsers. Flash means it just works the same, full stop.
* It looks the same. While you can do some pretty great things with DHTML etc. It's all still pretty web browser looking, you're tied to that due to limitations of what you can do, and performance issues if you stray too far from the simple. Flash allows you to have nice transitions, animation of key things, fluid interface interactions etc. Plus it's can be very different visually if you so wish.
* As for the time we can spend on Business Logic vs Interface. As in this space we are coding in an OO language, and can create nice class seperation and encapsulation, we can completely split off our business logic from our presentation code. This makes ongoing maintenance of either side of that equation much easier. If this were all DHTML/Javascript then you just can't do that (at least not for the client-side code). It means that our client-side code can have the same class structures as the server side code as they are both OO languages (Java and Laszlo in our case).

I hope that clears things up???

Re:From a year long coder in Laszlo (1)

NovaX (37364) | more than 8 years ago | (#15384878)

Yep, thanks!

All I meant regarding the business logic vs. interface was a question of priorities, rather than whether you use an MVC-style architecture. It was largely another wording for the adjacent question, as in: Does Lazlo force you to spend more time on the UI than on business-level features?

That can be a concern depending on your market, so a lot of people either blindly believe that the UI doesn't matter or is overly important. I was trying to gauge how much emphasis your company put on UI work (and whether it could be a concern or an asset). So I asked it in a few different ways in case you didn't fully answer the question. But you did. :)

Thanks again!

Re:From a year long coder in Laszlo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15384617)

There's also a bunch of resources for Open Source Flash [osflash.org] , in particular the MTASC [mtasc.org] open source flash compiler and a new promising language called haxe [haxe.org] that can be used for Flash but also AJAX/Javascript and on the Server side. Looks like it will be presented at OSCON 2006 [oreillynet.com] , might be interesting to follow.

Lazlo is quite cool (1)

SirSlud (67381) | more than 8 years ago | (#15384291)

From my tinkering with it a few years ago, its really quite a neat little sandbox develop neat little web componants (flash based or dhtml based) from xml feeds. To me, it kinda seemed like a neat 'OSX Dashboard' concept for the web. People could develop neat UI interfaces fed by xml data, and those componants could be shared, or forked, or what have you.

4 fa990tz (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15384301)

it's teh GHEY!

Any one else think... (1)

BigGar' (411008) | more than 8 years ago | (#15384303)

That Open Lazlo was an open source project to easily fillout those, no purchase neccessary, enter as often as you like, sweepstakes entry forms?

OpenLaszlo's potential goes beyond the web (5, Interesting)

Trinition (114758) | more than 8 years ago | (#15384313)

To me, OpenLaszlo is not about the web. If you think about what it does, it allow syou to specify a complete user interface and logic in an XML file. The layout is done with XML, and the logic is done with ECMAScript (yes, that's what JavaScript became).

The first OpenLaszlo solution compiled this XML into Flash which can run in any browser. Then they made a new compiler which turns it into DHTML so youd on't need Flash any more. So now you can take the same application written once (as an LZX XML file) and compile it to Flash or DHTML and get the same behavior. Both of those are very ubiquitous mediums. If you read their roadmap, they also have plans for Java client.

My hope is that one day, there will just be clients that read the LZX XML directly. These clients could be written in Java, .NET, TclTk, C++, you name it. They would all read the same LZX XML and render it for the user. That's very much how various different browsers all read the same HTML file and render it. So you might be thinking that its no better than HTML, but:

  • It is a tighter specification than the original HTML which planted the seed for incompatibilities
  • It is designed from the beginning for user interface declaration, not text markup
  • It leverages two well-accepted standards: XML and ECMAScript

If I had to pick a solution for the world to use for rich internet applications, I'd choose OpenLaszlo over Java Applets, Java WebStart, Macromedia Flex, DHTML, etc.

Re:OpenLaszlo's potential goes beyond the web (1)

tenchiken (22661) | more than 8 years ago | (#15384414)

If I had to pick a solution for the world to use for rich internet applications, I'd choose OpenLaszlo over Java Applets, Java WebStart, Macromedia Flex, DHTML, etc.

The great news is, the way they are going, you won't have to. Right now Laslo interpretes the code to DHTML and Flash.I hope someday they do a XUL port as well. But anyway you look at it, you will be able to at least code your app in something friendlier then Javascript, and relegate Javascript to just simple glue and scripts, what it was designed for, rather then writing everything from scratch in Javascript.

Re:OpenLaszlo's potential goes beyond the web (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 8 years ago | (#15384488)

So how does it compare to XUL(and XAML for that matter)?

Re:OpenLaszlo's potential goes beyond the web (2, Insightful)

killjoe (766577) | more than 8 years ago | (#15384585)

XUL only works in firefox, XAML only works in windows (vista) and probably only in IE.

Other then that the same idea though. If you don't want to tell some of your customers to go away because they chose a different browser or a different operating system then you then you should use a technology that is supported by everybody.

Re:OpenLaszlo's potential goes beyond the web (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 8 years ago | (#15384637)

Okay, but why lazlo->dhtml and not a xul or xaml (maybe a subset) ->dhtml? What does it add?

What is it good for? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15384320)

What is it good for? Absolutely nothing!

One thing: (1)

ninja_assault_kitten (883141) | more than 8 years ago | (#15384378)

PHP is not a web service.

Re:One thing: (1)

plams (744927) | more than 8 years ago | (#15384398)

Even less so when it's slashdotted.

Resources Galore on OpenLaszlo Here (4, Informative)

jg21 (677801) | more than 8 years ago | (#15384393)

Ideal rich thin client. (1)

Rdickinson (160810) | more than 8 years ago | (#15384397)

Its easy to develop in, XML based with javascript, OO, clean and featured, extensible, can talk to whatever back end data you have (java, soap, php whatever) renders meadia/feature rich great looking client apps into browsers (or stand alone) using either Flash or DHTML.

It is NOT flash or DHTML, its a language with a compilter/renderer, output is flash (and very soon DHTML).

Easiest way to produce clean great looking feature rich web applications I;ve found.

OpenLazlo.org crashes Firefox (1)

catch23 (97972) | more than 8 years ago | (#15384399)

I don't know whether it's fault of my firefox browser, or fault of their webpage, but I don't have a high confidence of a software product that advertises cross-platform capability but crashes in my Linux based Firefox. Does www.openlazlo.org crash in anyone else's browser besides mine? Or perhaps I'm just an outlier.

Re:OpenLazlo.org crashes Firefox (1)

Kelson (129150) | more than 8 years ago | (#15384601)

Works fine in my Linux-based Firefox.

In fact, Firefox 1.5 seems to be their reference platform for the initial DHTML version (which is newer [openlaszlo.org] than the Flash front-end), though they plan to target Firefox and IE, and are "reasonably confident" about Opera and Safari. I tried their DHTML demo (a photo management app) in Opera 9 beta 1, and while parts of it worked, it wouldn't actually display any of the thumbnails. Eh, beta browser plus beta site.

Anyway, you might want to check your spelling: it's www.openlaszlo.org [openlaszlo.org] -- don't forget the s before the z.

Re:OpenLazlo.org crashes Firefox (1)

sootman (158191) | more than 8 years ago | (#15385040)

Were you at openlazlo.org [openlazlo.org] (parked domain) or openlaSzlo.org/ [openlaszlo.org] (the site we're discussing)?

Huh! Good God! (1)

SensitiveMale (155605) | more than 8 years ago | (#15384402)

Absolutely nuthin!
Say it again y'all.

While you wait for a mirror... (1)

md17 (68506) | more than 8 years ago | (#15384415)

Check out Flex 2 [adobe.com] . It's similar to OpenLaszlo; free as in beer and the source code is provided. However, applications built with Flex 2 run much faster than OpenLaszlo applications, there are a ton more features, and the programming model is better.

Re:While you wait for a mirror... (1)

killjoe (766577) | more than 8 years ago | (#15384598)

Only flash though right? Lazlo now also supports HTML and AJAX.

Re:While you wait for a mirror... (1)

md17 (68506) | more than 8 years ago | (#15384702)

Yes, Flex applications utilize Flash as their virtual machine. The problem with outputting to HTML is that you then have to write to the lowest common denominator. So you loose great features like: binary sockets, vector graphics, bitmap manipulation, offline storage, JIT compiled performance, cross-domain requests, multiple file uploads, E4X, ECMAScript, etc. If you don't want any of those features, then I would recommend using a true Ajax framework. If you can do what you need with DHTML and you like the Ajax programming model, then why do you need a Flash version?

Obnoxious Perpetuation of Flash as a web UI (1)

Anomalyst (742352) | more than 8 years ago | (#15384689)

Why does everyone want to use MY computer to run THEIR code. OL might be worth a look when it is really DHTML capable, but I run NoScript to block ALL flash and most javascipt. If your site is running a Flash or JS site with no alternative access method, I'll go to your competitor.

Re:Obnoxious Perpetuation of Flash as a web UI (1)

jma05 (897351) | more than 8 years ago | (#15384731)

Just like you use your computer to watch their content. The % of people deliberately blocking Flash content is very very small - just a small fraction of geeks. I doubt that your use case has much weight. That said, I am no fan of Flash sites.

Re:Obnoxious Perpetuation of Flash as a web UI (1)

spoco2 (322835) | more than 8 years ago | (#15384946)

So, you don't use Google Maps or any other service that uses Javascript then?

I mean really, this outright hatred of Flash is ridiculous. In our case we are coding an application for use within Businesses. What this allows us to do is to not have to install any client on their pcs, not have to worry about getting updates to them, as we just update our servers with the latest version, and next time they load the app, it's brand new.

By rendering to flash you remove almost 100% of the issues of cross browser incompatibility of using DHTML and the like, and you also get a much more attractive user interface.

Quite frankly, Flash is a far more usable interface for web apps than DHTML.

Re:While you wait for a mirror... (4, Informative)

SimHacker (180785) | more than 8 years ago | (#15384807)

There's a major and important difference between Flex and OpenLaszlo: Flex is designed to lock you into Flash, and OpenLaszlo is designed to free you from Flash and enable you to deploy your application on other runtimes like DHTML. Also, OpenLaszlo is true Open Source Software, and FLEX is not. FLEX has some strict licensing restrictions about how you can use it, how you can modify it, and what you can the source code.

Why do you say that Flex 2 applications run much faster? They're both running on the same Flash player. The main overhead is rendering graphics on the screen, followed by interpreting the SWF byte codes. Why should FLEX applications be any faster then OpenLaszlo applications? What do you mean by "the programming model is better"?

Are there any application as complex as Laszlo Mail [laszlomail.com] implemented FLEX? Can you point us to any FLEX applications of similar complexity that we can test drive, and compare the speed for ourselves?

-Don

Re:While you wait for a mirror... (1)

md17 (68506) | more than 8 years ago | (#15385043)

OpenLaszlo is true Open Source Software, and FLEX is not.
Can I get commit access to their svn repo? Who owns the code I contribute to OpenLaszlo?

Why do you say that Flex 2 applications run much faster? They're both running on the same Flash player.
Actually Flex 2 applications utilize the new VM in Flash 9 which in a number of benchmarks shows performance improvements of 10x to 100x.

What do you mean by "the programming model is better"?
There is a lot to cover here and I'm off to see a movie in a few. I'll get back to you. But just to mention a few... ActionScript classes. Optional strong typing. Support for interfaces and extending classes.

Are there any application as complex as Laszlo Mail implemented FLEX?
JBoss is using Flex 2 to build their web based email client. Check it out on their blog [jboss.org] .

rhymes with openlezbo (0, Offtopic)

sl4shd0rk (755837) | more than 8 years ago | (#15384436)

I'm all for it, whatever it does. As long as I can watch.

What is OpenLaszlo, and what is it Good For? (1)

mikeron (837641) | more than 8 years ago | (#15384462)

"Making an arm of swiss cheese?"

Re:What is OpenLaszlo, and what is it Good For? (1)

zenwrench (911052) | more than 8 years ago | (#15385004)

i thought it was "making enormous swiss cheese"?

Re:What is OpenLaszlo, and what is it Good For? (1)

ratman09 (975802) | more than 8 years ago | (#15385023)

lots of random ideas that pop in to you little heads:)

well (1)

icepick72 (834363) | more than 8 years ago | (#15384498)

I remember a similar front page article on Slashdot a year ago. If you gotta' ask what it's good for again, and if it hasn't made its way into the public yet, then Slashdot will most immediate site hits and promote interest but unless the questions is ever answered, it will fizzle again.

Laszlo - great front end (1)

palantir0 (945761) | more than 8 years ago | (#15384505)

Laszlo is basically a javascript compiler where the render agent is either flash or dhtml. There is a cool demo taking the same source and targetting flash or dhtml but dhtml it isn't ready for primetime yet. Who should use it? Applications with long running time - I have found nearly every site leaks memory. Some of this is IE basically allowing leaks for backwards compatibility and others from just bad coding. I have found laslzo to be stable in this regard. Small applets are very easy also and present very well. In all, it is probably the best package out there. It is well rounded, looks good, and quick to develop for. I think its popularity will rise tremendously when dhtml targetting is out of beta. Cheers

haXe is a unified Flash, DHTML & AJAX solution (1)

shapr (723522) | more than 8 years ago | (#15384659)

I started learning haXe [haxe.org] last week. It's pretty cool.
haXe compiles to Flash, and JavaScript on the client-side and nekoVM on the server-side.
This is nice because I only need to know one language to build the whole solution.
haXe is a javascript-like language with some OCaml influences. It's implement in OCaml and is quite nifty.
Feel free to check out the Teach myself Flash [haxe.org] tutorials I've been writing over the last few days.
To get back to the topic, I started with OpenLaszlo, but I don't really need such a simplistic solution, so I switched to haXe, where I can do everything Flash can do.
On the other hand, I'd rather use Scalable Vector Graphics and not have to use Flash at all! Firefox, please finish implementing SVG!

Re:haXe is a unified Flash, DHTML & AJAX solut (1)

spoco2 (322835) | more than 8 years ago | (#15384964)

I only just found out about Haxe... but are there any examples at all of it being used in an actual application.

Interesting concept, but until I see it proven in practice, I'm not going to spend much time on it!

One major shortcoming. (3, Informative)

Schmig (225893) | more than 8 years ago | (#15385060)

I did a development job with Flex lately and was impressed, to say the least. In less than a day I had prototyped the entire interface of a rich administration UI, including tabbed panels, wizards, drag and drop between lists, etc.

Contrast this again so called AJAX; the day would have spent trying to figure out why my resizable table columns were jumping across the page in internet exploder. A comparable prototype would have taken weeks.

Once finished that work I thought seriouly about moving my own projects across to Flex but was put off by the prohibitive price (OK, I see this has changed in some way apparently...) So I investigated Lazslo, and herein is the point I want to make.

Laszlo lacks an *extremely* important aspect of Flex; declarative bindings from client side flash controls/models to remote java beans. In Flex, you can provide a thin service wrapper for whatever API you want to work against and declaratively tie client apps to it in minutes. Flash looks after the (asynchronous) serialization of deeply nested java obj graphs to actionscript and vice versa; in my experience this worked flawlessly. Lazslo on the other hand required the client to invoke something akin to a servlet that would generate a bunch of XML; this could be parsed by the client runtime and various controls populated.

Seems to me this is quite a major shortfalling compared to Flex which can for instance bidirectionally bind list controls to the return value of your service method public List getXXXXX. IMHO it puts the products in two different leagues. And mind you this was Flex 1.5 so probably the technology is better again. Apologies for sounding like a salesman..but I felt here at last was a web UI technology usable without selling one's soul...

I liked it better... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15385108)

"OpenLaszlo is an open source platform for developing user friendly web based applications, which work identically across all popular browsers and platforms (Windows, Mac, Linux, IE, Firefox, Safari, etc)."

I liked it better when it was called Java.

How many times do we need to reinvent the wheel, people?

We wrote Gliffy in Laszlo... (3, Interesting)

vidog (83824) | more than 8 years ago | (#15385157)

...and it worked for us.

Our web based diagram editor:

http://www.gliffy.com/gliffy/ [gliffy.com]

Chris Kohlhardt
Co-founder, Gliffy Inc.

Just the tool for creating SUBSCRIPTION software? (2, Interesting)

macraig (621737) | more than 8 years ago | (#15385301)

Yep, this is exactly the kind of tool that Microsoft and other Big Software wants to have and see widely used. The more that people begin seeing software as deliverable "content" rather than the buy-it-at-Sears appliance that it is, the easier it will be for Microsoft and other Big Software companies to force us to pay for it all every month.
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