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< Flex to be open-sourced   RIFE and OpenLaszlo users get together at JavaOne 2007 >
Wrong assumptions about OpenLaszlo

After reading a blog post about choosing RIA frameworks, I can't help but think that OpenLaszlo is not really seen for what it is and a lot of wrong assumptions are abound. Even friends of mine on IRC need clear clarifications about OpenLaszlo's direction and features.

The first one is about OpenLaszlo's support for multiple runtimes. Contrary to Java it doesn't intend to be Write Once Run Anywhere The multiple runtimes however allow you to have exactly the same architecture for building different applications or different parts of the same application. Some things are better done in DHTML (internationalization, accessibilty, native feel, font rendering, execution performance, memory footprint) and others are better done in Flash (video, music, multimedia, rotated fonts, high amount of animations, ...). You can reuse a lot of your code and most of it does work across runtimes, which is a nice benefit. I encourage everyone to try out OpenLaszlo's DHTML engine, it's quite impressive even at this first stable release status.

This brings me straight to Flash support and the apparent fact that Flex and Laszlo are at least on equals footing here. Some people actually seem to think that Flex has the edge since Adobe controls Flash too. In reality however, Flex only runs on Flash 9 while OpenLaszlo runs on Flash 7, 8 and 9 and does proper optimizations for each specific version.

A last one I regularly hear is that people seem to have an adverse reaction to the fact that XML is used to declare the UI. Strangely, I rarely hear people complain about (X)HTML being XML. In fact, it turns out that for describing user interfaces, a declarative XML approach really works extremely well. I admit it, initially I had a problem with the XML approach too, until I started actually working with it. Now I wouldn't want anything else. It allows for some pretty neat class libraries and reuse. In some applications even, I generate the Laszlo XML through XSLT from a data model. This is pretty powerful. Also, I much prefer Laszlo's Javascript than Flex's Actionscript. It is a lot closer to what you write using DHTML and just feels consistent and right.

I hope this will shed some new light on OpenLaszlo for you. The project deserves some decent attention, instead of dismissing it as a supposedly poor clone of Flex (btw. OpenLaszlo exists much longer than Flex).

posted by Geert Bevin in Laszlo on May 8, 2007 7:37 AM : 6 comments [permalink]


Re: Wrong assumptions about OpenLaszlo
Comparisons with JavaFX?
Re: Wrong assumptions about OpenLaszlo
As soon as JavaFX can be downloaded and used, I'll try it out.

The main issue is distribution of the runtime environment. OpenLaszlo with Flash or DHTML is much more ubiquitous that Java applets.
Re: Wrong assumptions about OpenLaszlo
Well, it's just been made available, but I need to find time to really try it out :-)

The integration with a browser is very important though, I don't think that this has been considered with JavaFX.
Re: Wrong assumptions about OpenLaszlo

I thought I'd let folks know that Project Orbit has been released by Sun, and is available here:

Project Orbit is another runtime for Laszlo that takes the DHTML runtime output and allows it to run in Java ME by emulating the browser DOM. From the main page: 'Project Orbit is the Sun Java ME viewer of Laszlo content. It is a Java ME CDC/Personal Basis application that uses the Rhino engine to run LZX programming language Web 2.0 (AJAX style) applications.'

Max Carlson
Re: Wrong assumptions about OpenLaszlo
And to add to what Max has said: the declarative style of LZX looks a lot cleaner to me than what JavaFX offers. Judge for yourself

OpenLaszlo Explorer: OpenLaszlo in 10 minutes

And OpenJFX, getting started: Getting started with JavaFX

I think LZX is a lot more readable than this JavaFX code example.

Frame {
            title: "Genology Example"
            height: 300
            width: 300
            content: BorderPanel {
                top: FlowPanel {
                    var buttonGroup = new ButtonGroup()
                    [RadioButton {
                        buttonGroup: buttonGroup
                        text: "Show Descendants"
                        selected: model.showDescendants
                        onChange: operation(newValue:Boolean) {
                             if (newValue) {
                                 var selectedPerson = model.people[selected];
                                 if (selectedPerson <> null) {
                                     model.selectedPerson = selectedPerson;
                                 model.showDescendants = true;

But looks a lot easier than directly coding in Java.

Raju Bitter
OpenLaszlo Community Manager
Re: Wrong assumptions about OpenLaszlo
<q>But looks a lot easier than directly coding in Java.</q>

Now try a complex example.

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