RailsConf: Mike Pence - Laszlo on Rails

Posted by Nick Sieger Wed, 28 Jun 2006 15:00:00 GMT

Mike Pence, professional web surfer, and Java free since March 15, talked about Sex, drugs, rock and roll or Laszlo on Rails.

Where are we going on the web?

  • Google Maps, Yahoo Music Engine, Google Spreadsheets -- the web is looking more and more like a desktop application.
  • “Web two oh” -- attention to design and more attractive interfaces
  • User customization a.k.a. “Pimp my site”
  • Use of rich media on the web, e.g., YouTube. It’s an expectation of the next generation of users that the web will be content-rich and an entertainment experience.
  • The Holy Grail! Applications that require no downloads, are instant/automatically updated, are distributed.

Open Laszlo

  • Pandora cited as an introductory example
  • Mike gave a 10 minute overview of Laszlo using the Open Laszlo Explorer.
  • Laszlo explorer shows you standard widgetry -- canvas, text, buttons, windows, forms
  • The power of Laszlo starts to show with data sets, with convenient data binding utilities, an extensible object model, and a declarative style. Mike showed 10 lines of code with a checkbox that controlled the visibility of a window, without having to attach an event handler to the checkbox.
  • http://www.openlaszlo.org/ has the 10 minute overview (explorer) and many other demos including LZPIX, which Mike demoed.
  • The newest version of Laszlo has DHTML support that allows a flash app to be served as DHTML instead, with little difference. Laszlo gives you the power of one runtime that rises above browser incompatibilities.

Laszlo on Rails

  • Install # install laszlo gem install ropenlaszlo rails laszlo-app && cd laszlo-app ./script/plugin install svn://rubyforge.org/var/svn/laszlo-plugin/tags/openlaszlo
  • More info at http://laszlo-plugin.rubyforge.org/

Pros & Cons

  • Pro: Rich possibilities
    • Blogbox -- cross-site window
    • Publish and subscribe for chat and collaboration, event-driven updates
  • Pro: deep API
  • Pro: in-browser development, like Seaside
  • Con: Consumes resources
  • Con: Accessibility, printability and searchability are not its strengths
  • Con: mature, yet requires experimentation
  • Con: performance can be an issue, especially on some older platforms

Store it away -- Laszlo is a promising technology, it’s free and open source it’s here today, and it appears to be getting good at serving standards-based interfaces. When combined with Rails’ increasing support for RESTian interfaces, the task of building compatible, dynamic applications should only get easier.

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