by Kaj Kandler
Today I visited the Sun Tech Days Boston for day number one. Sun Microsystems put on a big program at the downtown Sheraton hotel with three major tracks:
- NetBeans and various Java related technologies
- OpenSolaris and its community
- University a cross section for students, introductions to almost every Sun developer technology
I peaked in to the introductions for OpenSolaris. What I and a moderate crowd listened too was core developers who focused on the developing community of OpenSolaris and how it becomes more than Sun employees developing with everybody else watching. In many ways OpenSolaris does catch up with many other *nix like OS distribution. The word “modernize” was used often in describing the efforts to create new installers,
updated shells, new packaging system, more drivers, etc. OpenSolaris really seams to be a train picking up steam.
I was surprised, how undecided the road map was for the various projects and initiatives. It often was unclear when a certain feature would arrive in which release of OpenSolaris or Solaris the commercial distribution of Sun Microsystems. As an engineer I like things to be finished and done right, instead of rushed to meet a deadline. But from the business perspective, it is not a good thing, that many processes, and I mean decision processes, are not yet decided on. I’m well familiar with such mixed messages from the OpenOffice/StarOffice project, I’m more involved with. If I would meet Jonathan Schwartz, the CEO of Sun Microsystems, I’d let him know that Sun’s positioning of the commercial Sun products versus the open source products is not clear and that it is hurting Sun.
Back to the Java track, where I peaked into sessions about Ajax frameworks and upcoming Swing technologies. It appears Sun does not take sides with the various Ajax frameworks, other than trying to support them all in NetBeans. NetBeans 6.0 impressed me with its ability to not just syntax color and code assist but also to have many wizards that generate code for your from a few questions. This was especially apparent in the session about Swing Application Framework and Java Beans Binding. NetBeans supports these brand new frameworks with code generation that can rival Ruby on Rails scaffolding, although for pure Java apps.
Speaking of Ruby on Rails, or better Jruby on Rails. This session was rather disappointing, as the speaker was jsut a few days into Ruby and Rails and basically did talk about her own excitement about a dynamic language and the impressive meta programming Rails style. I would have hoped for more hard facts on how JRuby does vs native Ruby and what the challenges are and how they are overcome.
As you can see it was a busy day, and the program only started in the afternoon. I look forward to tomorrow.
by Kaj Kandler
Yesterday evening, I listened to a remarkable presentation from David Temkin from LaszloSystems. David presented the upcoming release of OpenLaszlo “Legals” (will be released as 4.0) which supports the rendering of OpenLaszlo applications in DHTML and Flash.
OpenLaszlo is a really remarkable framework. To achieve such sleek user interfaces they use “cinematic experience“. this kind of eye candy that is unheard of in the web-application world. OpenLaszlo claims it allows a user to better understand the transitions from one state of an application to the next and therefore makes navigation easier to understand. and delivers near desktop performance to a web-browser near you.
David showed some real world applications such as web-based Gliffy a Visio like diagram drawing application and Pandora, a personalized web-radio that plays to your individual taste, if you train it well. He also demonstrated a sleek application for Barclays Global Investors tracking stock indeces which LaszloSystems did create in 2 weeks.
However, a really great application is their LZPIX Photo Application. It’s an application that pulls some photos from Flickr and displays them in a Laszlo based interface. It is making use of almost every thing in the LZX language. The remarkable part is that the same source code can be rendered in Flash and in the new DHTML engine. And it is extraordinary, that in parts the DHTML version is even faster than the Flash version. Look at the speed in which the images load in DHTML vs. Flash. This is quite an achievement for the development team of OpenLaszlo.
Amy Muntz delivered a convincing plea for open source contributions to the OpenLaszlo project. If you are a designer or programmer and want to show off a really cool application or component. This is the place to go. and off course you can also contribute to the overall development of the engine.
The only disappointment for me was that I didn’t hear a story, how to get this great platform to the desktop. It looks like Adobe is going to deliver Flash based applications to the desktop with the Apollo project. I think that is a great development, because many web-based applications do not need the browser to function, look at Pandora or the very own LaszloMail. They would be better off with loosing the browser back button and navigation bar and trade it in for some local storage. I hope that the upcoming Apollo will play OpenLaszlo Code in Flash as well as in DHTML.
The good news of the evening was that OpenLaszlo 4.0 will be released any week now.
I must conclude, that OpenLaszlo is really hot (70+ attendees are proof of that) and heads and shoulders above developing a Rich Internet Application (RIA) from scratch. Thanks to the folks at Optaros hosting this event.
by Kaj Kandler
Laszlo Systems invites the Boston developer community to an evening of pizza, beer and OpenLaszlo AJAX development on Thursday, June 8th. They will present a preview of the new DHTML runtime for the OpenLaszlo platform and have the chance to meet other Laszlo advocates. Please register or sign up to present your latest OpenLaszlo project.
Who Should Attend
OpenLaszlo (LZX) newbies and seasoned Laszlo veterans alike are welcome.
Where and When
60 Canal Street, 4th Floor (Map)
Boston, MA 02114
Phone: (617) 227-1855
Cost: Free. Pizza, beer and non-alcoholic drinks will be provided by Laszlo Systems.
by Kaj Kandler
June 1st was once again PHP Meetup Boston night. Mark Withington, the organizer had invited Mike Potter from Adobe’s Developer Relations team to present about the upcoming Flex 2.0 web-application framework and how to use it with PHP back-end applications. Mike gave an impressive overview of Flex 2.0 and how easy it is to create impressive user interfaces with a few lines of xml and ActionScript.
Here is what I took away from this meeting:
- Flex 2.0 is a really impressive development and expected to be out within the next 60 days. See for yourself, what Mike did with Flex2.0 and Drupal. He also demonstrated an open source PHP-Flex bridge, called AMFPHP. Flex 2.0 competes with open source projects such as OpenLaszlo and ZK1. However, Mike thinks it is the stronger platform. He said that a basic command line SDK will be free and the Flex 2.0 developer IDE based on Eclipse will be less than $1000 per developer license.
- Mike described another project that my interest. The project is called Adobe Apollo and is expected to come out by the end of the year. He described it as a stand alone flash application engine, that can be used to package Flash (and Flex) based applications to be installed on a user’s desktop. The really cool statement to me was that it also should run AJAX based applications.
- Triggered by a question from the audience, Mike briefly introduced Adobe’s AJAX framework, called Spry. This also looks very powerful and I have to revisit this topic, once I learned a bit more about it.
This was an evening really well spent. I learned a lot and met a bunch of great people. If you are a PHP developer or a software developer in Boston, I highly recommend to go to the PHP Meetup.