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Laszlo in Action hits the shelves

coverAfter many months of editing and fine-tuning, Manning finally published Laszlo in Action, the first comprehensive guide towards OpenLaszlo besides the reference documentation.

I received a final copy through DHL yesterday. Norman Klein and Max Carlson really did a great job explaining the technology behind this vast RIA framework, and it has been a pleasure to review several chapters of the earlier drafts.

I'm sure this book will make it much easier for people to develop with OpenLaszlo as it clarifies some of the lesser known intricacies.

posted by Geert Bevin in Laszlo on Feb 5, 2008 10:43 AM : 0 comments [permalink]
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]
Article: Breaking OpenLaszlo loose from XML data

OpenLaszlo logoTheServerSide published my article that explains how to uses OpenLaszlo with non-XML data, most notably JSON. It contains a short self-contained example of how to asynchronously retrieve the data, without triggering the XML parsing routines.

Currently this is still primitive since it doesn't tie into the data-binding infrastructure. There are however plans for the dataset facility to be better abstracted, creating a uniform approach to interacting with structured data. Until then you're still able to explicitly update the view elements that you need by applying the techniques that are outlined in this article.

Read the article here.

posted by Geert Bevin in Laszlo on Mar 31, 2007 6:27 PM : 5 comments [permalink]
Pandora : the ultimate internet radio?

Pandora logo I looked at Pandora more than a year ago when it just launched but I stopped using it since you were required to pay a yearly subscription fee to continue listening beyond the initial free hours. I liked the idea a lot though. They have a huge catalog of tagged music and are able to select songs for you based on your taste and preferences. This can be done in several ways, you start off by providing a number of artists or albums that you really like and Pandora starts playing immediately. As you listen to it, you can give each individual song a thumbs up or thumbs down, or just let it slide by. All this influences the decision-making process for the next songs. In the end you create your own personal radio station. You can configure up to 100 of these, which means that you can easily set up different ones and listen to them depending on your current mood. A QuickMix feature also makes it possible to get more variety since it will mix all your radio stations on-the-fly as some kind of über-station-with-stuff-you-like.

I recently decided to take a look at it again and noticed that they switched to a banner-based income model with a subscription for those that don't wont to see any advertising. This is awesome, since for all intents and purposes, Pandora is now free to use. Additionally, it they have increased the audio quality of all their music to 128Kbps which makes it sound great!

Pandora is also spot on with the Web 2.0 community approach since you can share your radio stations. Feel free to listen to G.Bevin's Radio. Note that this will not play what I'm currently listening to, it will select music for you based on my musical taste.

I'm using it with the MacOSX DeskBrowse utility, which neatly slides away into the side of the screen. Most of the time, Pandora is invisible and I only slide it in to give my appreciation of the music that is playing.

I'm curious to see if Pandora will replace my preferred internet radio station, Radio Paradise, or if the computer-mixed radio program will start to bore me. I'm planning on using it for at least a few days to see how it goes ...

posted by Geert Bevin in Laszlo on Oct 18, 2006 8:27 AM : 2 comments [permalink]
Bla-bla List is blooming

A year after its initial version has been launched, there seems to be a sudden uptake in the interest in Bla-bla List. This month it started getting around 200 new subscriptions per day and people are sending in regular donations to help the project and the free service.

Yesterday I was totally baffled though when I looked at my Google Adsense history. Since the uptake, the site makes me consistently $20 per day in bannering revenue. This is amazing, since the application itself doesn't contain the slightest trace of a banner, they are only present on the gateway site and the information pages.

I suppose that people are finally getting ready for Rich Internet Applications. This is perfect timing since I have great plans to enhance Bla-bla List further and to embark on a series of adventures with OpenLaszlo and Laszlo Systems. More about that later, when everything is finalized in that area. Let's just say that if you have OpenLaszlo experience, live in Europe and are looking for work, shoot me message, we might have some positions opening up in the coming weeks or months.

posted by Geert Bevin in Laszlo on Mar 30, 2006 9:29 AM : 0 comments [permalink]

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