Monday, February 19, 2007

Channeling Powerbuilder via Flex

I did a little Powerbuilder programming 12 years or so ago. I also at one point (gasp) did some Lotus Domino development. It was even simpler to use and crank out applications with.

As this article describes:

They [Powerbuilder programmers] could do stuff quickly, or using the modern jargon, they were agile programmers without even knowing it.

One of the smartest people I know, my co-worker Erik Onnen recently tried every Ajax framework available and tore his hair out trying to deal with browser issues (don't even think about IE 6). This is not some browser neophyte. He knows JavaScript, JSON, CSS etc. inside and out.

Every Ajax intesive site I have been on besides Gmail locks up, bombs out and as another co-worker of mind (Ed Copony) says, "Ajax apps. make your computer fan go insane".

But I want to build a RIA app! I just don't want all the panic!

4-5 years ago building Flash GUI's was the rage for a bit. I never got a chance to do it & was admittedly against it in general. But suffering through Ajax makes one take another look. It is of course called Adobe Flex today & it seems to have come a long way. Certainly seems like a *productive* way to build RIAs. Sure you have to get past a couple hang ups, but that is life in the big city.

Hmmm, what can you do with Flex + JavaSpaces + Caching ... hmmm ...


Sarge said...

(cough) vendor lock-in (cough)

fuzzy said...

The encouraging thing is they are opening the core Flex technology (the part that runs on Flash) up a bit & OSS projects are sprouting up around alternatives to Data Services.

Trust me, that was my first reaction as well. But I also don't want to become a cross-browser Ajax expert & the functionality I am building would greatly benefit from a RIA.

Choices choices choices . . . :)

Pete Lacey said...

(cough) open source (cough)

fuzzy said...

Thanks Pete - we gandered at that, but didn't hear people raving over it - have you?

Pete Lacey said...

Have you?

I haven't used it, but I have heard very positive things. From my most recent customer visit and from BG analyst Richard Monson-Haefel, who's recently created a ton of material on creating "rich Internet appplications."

Erik Onnen said...

Blah, it's only a matter of time until Google buys Adobe and open sources the rest of the platform anyway :)

As to the lock-in issue, the core platform (the ActionScript pieces) will likely run on the next version of Firefox through the Tamarin additions:

It's no more of a lock-in than Java has been anyway, although opening the player would surely be welcome.

The Flex ActionScript components are open in the sense that they ship the source with the SDK. Not under an OSS license per say, but nothing is hidden from you. The only place I see Lazlo winning the "open-ness" battle is that it can be converted to DHTML in addition to Flash bytecode.

The DHTML demo is currently crushing my CPU BTW and does not render the same between FF and IE.

Michael said...

It sounds like the people at Google who designed gmail should publish somehting about how they implemented an AJAX project so successfully with good cross-browser compatibility.

Michael said...

It sounds like there is still a lot of work needed in developing "best practices" for AJAX. The fact that gmail is such a success means that putting together robust, cross-browser compatible applications is not impossible. One way to make AJAX development easier within an enterprise is to mandate the type of browser to be used for accessing AJAX applications. There really shouldn't be a major learning curve for personnel who are familiar with one browser to learn another.