Considering Open Laszlo, hAxE

Considering Open Laszlo, hAxE

I was catching up with one of the engineers who works on Open Laszlo, a rich-internet application system that came out some time before Flex from Laszlo Systems. Laszlo has historically produced output for Flash Player, but now it’s targeting DHTML also! There’s a demo on the home page, showing both examples with Flash and DHTML.

I’ve been interested in Laszlo for some time, but have been preoccupied with regular Flash development using the Macromedia IDE. I think it’s time to take another look at it; Laszlo separates presentation from logic through a declarative XML-based schema that seems like it would be pretty fast. What kept me from really getting into it was the additional requirements to host it (Apache Tomcat) and my lack of a really good XML editor (I dislike formatting XML in general). The former has been addressed by neat try it out in 10 minutes tools and non-commercial hosting options, and the latter…well, I am mature enough now to overlook my silly prejudices.

I’m also curious about hAxE, the “web oriented universal language” that grew out of the MTASC team. It also can target either DHTML or Flash Player.

Anything that can isolate me from actually having to deal with the DOM and browser-based javascript is a good thing, as far as I’m concerned :-)


  1. Karl G 13 years ago

    The advantage of actually dealing with dom and javascript is that it’s actually a stable platform to program against. I’m willing to bet that five years from now I’ll still be using a browser that can understand xhtml 1.0, css 2.1 and javascript 1.2 without changing a line of code. I don’t have that confidence in laszlo.

    This isn’t to pick on laszlo, I don’t use prototype.js for the same reason. The ease of building doesn’t make up for the possibility of breaking.


  2. Dave Seah 13 years ago

    If you write an app that works on today’s browsers with any of these systems, won’t they still work 5 years from now without a recompile in your test scenario? This is assuming that the back end (in the case of Laszlo) is still deployed, but with something like prototype, it’ll still work won’t it? That is, unless something has been deprecated in the browser’s VM or DOM, but in that case you’ll probably be changing lines of code anyway in your own custom solution.

    But it’s a good point…any time you base your development efforts on someone else’s middleware, you’re taking a risk.

    On a side note, I’ve avoided web development for years because the platforms were awful, idiosyncratic, buggy, and inelegant. Anything that will hide that crap from me is welcome, so long as it is self-contained.

  3. Karl G 13 years ago

    In theory they’ll still work, but that’s if they’re still around and if the api hasn’t changed.

    I predict that a significant number of sites will go to a hybrid svg/html layout when IE finally gets in browser svg support but I don’t see standards complaint html and dom scripting going though a shakeup.

    I’m wary of prototype because it modifies the underlying language. If the underlying language then evolves to pick up some prototype features but with different call signatures, things will start to go bad fairly quickly. Brendan Eich has been talking about JS2 for a few months, so this isn’t as far fetched as it may sound.

  4. Scott Evans 13 years ago

    FYI, you don’t need Tomcat to deploy an OpenLaszlo app, just to build it.  Since 3.0, OpenLaszlo has been able to build “SOLO” apps, which are standalone .swf files.  There are some instances where the Tomcat piece is still needed to do transcoding and whatever, but those are relatively rare.

    Also, I pretty much hate doing “web development” too—though maybe for different reasons—but I find developing in OL to be a pleasure for the most part.  It’s much more like developing desktop software than it is “web app development”.

    (note: I work at Laszlo Systems.)

  5. Dave Seah 13 years ago

    Hey Scott, thanks for the clarification! Maybe deploying Tomcat for building isn’t as bad as I thought it would be, especially if it’s windows or osx pre-built packages. I don’t know. I have a really cheap text-only linux server at home (120MHz Pentium w/ 64MB of memory) and installing ANYTHING on that box (which doesn’t use any package management) is a pain in the butt. One of these days I’ll upgrade my development server infrastructure, but it’s not a huge priority.

  6. Scott Evans 13 years ago

    Oooh, I wouldn’t put OpenLaszlo on that box.  Bad things will happen.  The OL compiler needs some horsepower.

    Most people run OL on their desktop machine (and at Laszlo, most of our “desktop machines” are laptops), just like you would any other dev environment with a compiler.  The Tomcat stuff is pretty standalone and easy to start/stop.

    Also the new intel Macs are fast as hell for OL compiles.  Here’s a post I wrote comparing compile performance

    *Dave: I just turned Scott’s URL into a clickable link*

  7. Nicolas 13 years ago

    I actually would put haXe on that box :) The compiler is very fast and requires only minor resources.

  8. Dave Seah 13 years ago

    Scott: Thanks for the info! I wish I could attend the Laszlo event on June 8th here in Boston (got too many deadlines, unfortunately).

    Nicolas: WOW, really? That sounds like something I should try doing :-)