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Laszlo Applications | Don Hopkins

Laszlo Applications

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Pie Menu -vs- Linear Menu Experiment

This is a re-creation in OpenLaszlo of the experiment comparing pie menus and linear menus, described in the paper "A Comparative Analysis of Pie Menu Performance", by Jack Callahan, Don Hopkins, Mark Weiser and Ben Shneiderman. It administers and times the same sequences of pie menus and linear menus as the experiment.

This version measures the selection time and error rate, but doesn't collect or display the information. If I can find the time, I'll extend this to consentually collect usage statistics on the server, and plot graphs of selection time and error rate, as shown in the paper.

Sims Content Catalog in Laszlo and Python

This is a large project I'm developing in OpenLaszlo: creating a rich web application for browsing, searching, exploring, collecting, personalizing, shopping and downloading Sims content.

I'm working with SimFreaks to put their entire catalog of thousands of Sims objects and characters into this database driven catalog. I'm using Transmogrifier to automatically export pictures of all the Sims objects.

Besides simply searching the catalog for interesting objects, you can navigate and explore collections of objects, and even interactivally compose your own scenes.

It's like a cross between colorforms playsets, hypercard and graphical adventures, with Sims room backgrounds, objects and characters, including interlinked image maps and text annotations.

The front-end is implemented in OpenLaszlo, and the back-end is implemented in Python, using SQLObject.

It also includes an administrative database interface for browsing and editing the SQL database that is used to model the site, and keep track of the users, objects, collections, pictures, etc. It's extensible by plugging in customizable Laszlo widgets for displaying and editing special data types, like pictures, checkboxes, color selectors, date pickers, pie menus, OPML editors, etc.

Laszlo Database Interface

I'm developing a reusable Laszlo component for browsing and editing SQL databases.

Currently it's up and running, built into the Sims Content Catalog Laszlo application, and it talks to a Python/SQLObject/MySQL back-end. But I'm factoring it out and redesigning it to work on its own, and support multiple back-ends.

Laszlo is ideal for implementing specialized user interface components for editing custom data types, like checkboxes, pie menus, color selectors, date pickers, OPML editors, picture viewers, map browsers, etc.

BlogBlox Free Laszlo Applications for Personal Blogs

Blogboxes provide exciting, instantly deployed functionality for your blog or Web site. They are free for non-commercial use. Enjoy them and spread the good word!

Photoblox: Show personal image slideshows on your Web page, customized to suit with dramatic presentation effects, annotations and PayPal integration.

Linkblox: Compactly present your favorite URL links within expandable tabs. Customize the Linkblox with your own external OPML XML file.

Weatherblox: Always have an answer to "How's the weather?". Enhance your blog or homepage with WeatherBlox.

Soundblox: Let your visitors play MP3 format audio directly out of your Web page. Customize the appearance and content of your SoundBlox with your own XML playlist and media.

NutritionQuest Personalized Surveys in Laszlo

I'm working for NutritionQuest, developing a Laszlo based personalized nutrition survey.

Laszlo OPML Viewer/Editor

I've been discussing the design of an OPML viewer/editor with Marc Canter and Dave Winer.

It will serve nicely as a stand-alone component like a simple blog roll or nested link browser, or as a more advanced customizable blog applet like BlogBlox, and it will also be customizable for use in Laszlo applications, like the database interface, for editing XML structures stored in SQL databases.

Update: Here's a first cut of server side support for Drupal, and the client side for Laszlo: OPML Site Map Based on Drupal Taxonomy. Laszlo OPML Drupal Taxonomy Site Map Browser.

Laszlo Koosh Ball Generator

For fun, and to test out Laszlo's rendering speed with lots of lines, I rewrote the classic NeWS "Koosh Tool" koosh ball generator in OpenLaszlo.

It's amazing how many colored lines Flash can animate on the screen at once!

Laszlo Koosh Balls Demo

Laszlo Koosh Balls Source Code in Laszlo

Laszlo Pie Menus

I've ported my JavaScript pie menu code to OpenLaszlo, and rewritten it to take advantage of Laszlo features like Flash graphics and animation, constraints, events, prototype customization, and XML data binding.

I'm using the Laszlo pie menus in the Sims Content Catalog, and the von Neumann 29 State Cellular Automata, and other projects.

Laszlo Pie Menu Demo

Laszlo Pie Menu Demo Source Code in Laszlo

Laszlo Pie Menu Component Source Code in Laszlo

Laszlo Mail

Note: Laszlo Mail is now live! You can sign up for a free account at, and try it out now!

This is stuff about Laszlo Mail, which is a rich web email application, runs in any web browser supporting the Flash player, talks to a Java server via asynchronous XML, and provides a rich desktop-application-like gui with drag-and-drop, etc.

Laszlo Systems is developing Laszlo Mail and other Laszlo components for customers like Earthlink, who are deploying their "Earthlink Ehanced Webmail" customized version of Laszlo Mail to millions of customers.

I've learned how to develop large complex Laszlo applications like Laszlo Mail, by working as a contractor for Laszlo Systems.

I developed the email folder tree, with drag and drop editing of a tree of mail folders, and also the attachments upload component.

XML Pie Menus

Chris, a computer science student from who's interested in user interface design, asked me some interesting questions about pie menus:

First, were you happy with The Sims' implementation of pie menus? It seems as though it doesn't necessarily provide all of the great features of an ideal pie. The targets aren't infinitely 'deep' -- the user needs to click directly on the button. Perhaps more importantly, the targets aren't in predictable locations (they items are dynamic based on a very complex set of inputs.) Don't misunderstand; I loved the game and felt the the interface worked well. I am interested in the design decisions that were made.

The other thing I wanted ato ask was, have you any opinions on the game Sacrifice? I was very drawn to its pie system, and am always surprised that there has really never been much mention of it when it comes to discussion of pies, and pies in games. Thank you for your time,


Thanks for your thoughtful questions!

I'm glad to hear fasteroids still works after all those internet explorer patches that have come out since I wrote it. I hope the Eloas patent doesn't force Microsoft to break browser plug-ins like fasteroids and pie menus on purpose.

I'm pretty happy with the way The Sims pie menus turned out, considering the time and design constraints. But of course there are several things about them I would change and extend if I had the time.

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