Commanding Chaos for Coworking, Open Source and Creative Communities

Forget Flex, Go OpenLaszlo

Fri, 08/24/2007 - 06:18 -- rprice

Note: Mike G. from Central Florida PHP is giving a talk about Flex this Saturday at DeVry @ Millenia.

A good friend of mine, Jake, recently visited Orlando raving about Adobe’s Flex, and how it was going to make Flash development for people who think in HTML and Object-Oriented programming much simpler and faster. I went looking into Flex and discovered OpenLaszlo. Laszlo used to be a Flash-only framework, but it can now publish DHTML just as easily, and with a few added bonuses you don’t get with Flash, like including an iFrame.

After watching the OpenLaszlo 4 Programming Tutorial Screencast, I’m convinced that Laszlo is more capable than Flex, and there is less proprietary code to learn since you use Javascript instead of Actionscript. It’s all ECMA, XML and xPath, so I guess at some point it becomes 6 vs. a half dozen, but I will mention one small caveat: iPhone compatible. Oh yes, I’ve seen the first iPhone app in Laszlo, and it’s pretty and touch-screen happy. (I think it goes without saying that if it works on iPhone, it can work with all major browsers)

Am I raving? I’m not allowed to rave, because I haven’t tried both systems, but from where I’m sitting this is another situation where an equal amount of training and no expensive development tools are going to get your job done in the same amount of time, and end up being more flexible, easily extended and powerful. You can convince any boss of that if you’ve got all the information.

Under the hood from Wikipedia:

Laszlo applications can be deployed as traditional Java servlets, which are compiled and returned to the browser dynamically. This method requires that the web server be running the OpenLaszlo server.

Alternatively, Laszlo applications can be compiled from LZX into a binary SWF file, and loaded statically into an existing web page. This method is known as SOLO deployment. Applications deployed in the manner lack some functionality of servlet-contained files, such as the ability to consume SOAP web services and XML remote procedure calls.

Hear that? Static! One score for Flex is the ability to run as a desktop app (using AIR/Apollo), but that requires a download, and that’s a no-no on the internet.

Do you know Pandora uses Laszlo? That’s a pretty app, and yes it runs in Flash, but I bet it doesn’t have to. The Behr ColorSmart app is pretty nice too, and no hand-keyframed Flash? Love it. Wikipedia says Yahoo!, Earthlink and the Internet Archive are known to use Laszlo as well. I like those websites too.

Last but not least, it’s open source! Published under IBM’s Common Public License, which is a less-lawsuit inspiring type of GPL. Flex is supposed to be published under the Mozilla licensing, but that version is still in beta. Laszlo has been open source for 3 years now. Eat it, Adobe. I’m not giving you guys another penny.

I’ll be very proud to integrate some Laszlo apps into Petentials, which is built entirely on open source software - Drupal, PHP, MySQL, Apache and Linux.


Commenting on this Blog post is closed.


Submitted by srtes1 (not verified) on

No need to give Adobe another penny. Flex is free and has been since 2006. And it will be open source soon too.

If you like Laszlo, go for it, but JavaScript and ActionScript are both based on the same standard, ECMAScript, and the ActionScript VM has been open source for a long time now, so no difference there in terms of "proprietariness" (sp?) :)

Yes, Mr. Macromedia employee guy, but that doesn't give anything to the fact that laszlo can print out DHTML and iFrames.

Adobe needs to do a lot more over the next few years to convince me they are looking out for the open source community.

There's also a difference between "available source code" and a really-for-real open source project. I would call Flex "available source code", not open source. I like the idea of being able to contribute to the project if it is missing a feature or if I find a bug.

I heard they were having emergency meetings to hash out ways to "convince you" because it just wouldn't be a platform be without you.