Laszlo Goes Open Source

Rich Internet Application vendor LaszloSystems has open sourced its development systems and LPS-Lazslo Presentation Server This is significant because Laszlo provides an attractive alternative to Microsofts XAML as a UI defintion language. It will also mean that Macomedia Flex and Central now have an open source competitor because the Laszlo Java servlet compliant server produces Flash 5 or higher rich internet applications. With the combination of Flash, JavaScript, XML and SOAP based database interactions , Laszlo can deliver multimedia rich interfaces (music, animation, video mixed in with grids, buttons, and other standard GUI controls).

These RIA have 3 major advanatges. First, they run in any browser and because they support Flash 5 they are displayale by 97% of those browsers. Second, the architecture of Laszlo RIA significantly reduces the amount of roundtripping required of Laszlo web applications. Because Flash and Laszlo can run other Flash .swf files, a whole array of third party Flash tools and visual effects become available.

The trade-off of Laszlo relative to Macromedia Flex is that it does not support Flexs latest version 2 of ActionScript with its enhanced Object model and greater JavaScript compliance. Also, Flex has a Builder an IDE for visual drag and drop development and debugging of Flex code. But LZX is easier to learn than MXML, Flexs XML-based GUI definition language.

With Laszlo and Mozillas XUL (which Oracle has tenatively committed to), developers now have two powerful and open source tools for developing much more robust and rich internet applications. As for Laszlo we suspect LZX and the Laszlo core will be used just like Beehive. Beehive is the core of BEAs Weblogic Workshop which has been open sourced. But BEA has gone onto to extend Beehive/BEA Weblogic Workshop with more extensive Web Service controls and orchestration features that are included in BEA Weblogic Server. I am purely guessing that Laszlo may take a similar approach but extending the reach of Laszlo interfaces to other devices – PDAs, mobile phones, perhaps Linux desktops etc.