OpenLaszlo is more Portable and Prettier than AJAX

In the Slashdot discussion of "The Current State of Ajax", Henry Minsky posts:

OpenLaszlo is more portable (Score:3, Informative)
by hqm (49964) on Friday August 19, @03:23PM (#13358719)

OpenLaszlo is an open-source tool for building Rich Internet Apps that compiles them down to Flash applications. The advantage is that the graphics are smooth, it runs pixel-for-pixel identical in virtually any browser, no cross-platform incompatibilities.

An OpenLaszlo app behaves essentially like an Ajax app; data requests are made for XML data (or media) in the background, and the user interface is presented as a seamless window-system style desktop app.

Simple Example

Re:OpenLaszlo is more portable (Score:3, Informative)
by josepha48 (13953) on Friday August 19, @05:39PM (#13359410)

problem is that that requires flash on the browser end to be installed. While not usually a problem, sometimes it is a requirement not to have ANY client side 'extras' ( applets, flash, plugins ) installed on the client. The XmlHttpRequest, which is really improperly named, it should be the AsyncJsHttpRequest object or something, actually allows me to do updates on a fill out form without refreshing the entire page. There is no XML in my stuff, just a JS onchange make the request, put result in div or span. I was required NOT to use flash or applets or plugins. So I went with JS / HTML and the DOM. Its worked well, and the XmlHttpRequest object is allowing me to take it to the next level.

Only 'flamers' flame!
Does slashdot hate my posts?

Re:OpenLaszlo is more portable and prettier (Score:2)
by SimHacker (180785) * on Saturday August 20, @02:41PM (#13363595)
(http://www.donhopkins.com/ | Last Journal: Monday February 23, @07:48AM)

Flash is installed by default on most browsers. 98% of all browsers already have Flash installed. So the number of people who can't run your application is miniscule, and it's easy for most of them to upgrade for free. No other platform comes close to Flash's ubiquity -- it's more widespread than Java, SVG, UIL, XAML, or anything else on the radar. The harsh reality of AJAX (besides the obvious fact that it has sucky graphics) is that it's extremely difficult to write code that runs the same in all browsers, and you have to relentlessly test against each different browser on every different platform that you plan to support. Flash has no such problem, because it's identical across all platforms.

The lowest-common-denominator graphics AJAX can support across all browsers are crude and clumsy. Google maps has to bend over backwards and depend on the server to draw a diagonal line with transparent PNGs on Firefox, but it can't use transparent PNGs on Internet Explorer, so it has to use non-standard VML instead. It can't simply do everything in terms of SVG or PNG or VML: it actually has to support BOTH PNG and VML, but can't take advantage of vastly superior SVG since it's not commonly deployed nor well supported! All that rube-goldberg technology, just to draw a stupid line.

AJAX applications require a huge amount of extra work to develop, and even more to maintain, because of the necessity of dealing with evolving browser incompatibilities. And the end result simply isn't worth all the effort, since the lowest-common-denominator graphics and the resulting user interfaces are so crude and limited.

For example, Pie menus should pop up in round and arbitrarily shaped windows, but it's impossible to even draw a circle with DHTML, let alone spokes and speech bubbles!

AJAX practices must balance on a randomly swerving rasor's edge: the intersection of what works on all browsers at the time of implementation. But all the browsers are constantly evolving in different directions, so today's hacks and kludges you're forced to use to work around bugs in today's various browsers will make your application fragile, complex and hard to maintain, and it will probably break in future browsers. AJAX forces you to artificially limit yourself and refrain from using technologies like SVG, VML and PNG, or else you have to actually implement simple things like diagonal lines with several different technologies at once, sniff the browser, adapt at run-time, and fall back to server side rendering!

Maybe Google has the resources to develop and matintain several different ways of drawing a diagonal line over a map, but most companies and independent developers don't have as much human and computer resources to flush down the toilet on such a simple problem of drawing lines. Flash already solves that problem quite nicely thank you, and it's the most ubiquitous RIA platform that exists today, with open source development tools like OpenLaszlo.

-Don