Gaming Widgets and the Change in the RAIA Race

The following game widget can be found here. What is interesting is that it is available in 3 formats:
1)JavaScript – as used just above here
2)Flash – which can embed on just about any website
3)MySpace – which is a variation of the Flash format – release 9 instead of 10
What is missing ? Well for  the other “popular” Internet dynamic runtime engines – think Java/JavaFX and Microsoft Silverlight as the prime examples – each is a no show. Does this give a reading for the relative popularity of the various Dynamic Scripting languages ? Flash continues to do well as does  JavaScript while other longtime scripting languages like Python, Perl,  and even Java/JavaFX wax and wane in popularity. If JavaScript gains more raw speed [and its is currently doing that] plus better  offline capabilities beyond Google Gears – it could become a significant challenger to Java as the cross platform programming language of choice.

On the downside, JavaScript certainly does not have the speed and reach of Java but the improvements in the category of performance have been accelerating lately. And JavaScript’s next edition, ECMAScript 4 [it approximates the current Adobe Flash 10 with out all of Flash’s  graphics extensions], provides a solid OO foundation for the language. But many JavaScript vendors, including Microsoft and Yahoo among others have backed off from implementing the next step of JavaScript=>ECMAScript 4 –  as ECMAScript’s OO rigor and new Event Handling mechanisms mean profound changes in how traditional JavaScripting is to be done. So the RAIA Race [RAIA=Rich Anywhere Interface Apps]to become the universal scripting language among such contenders as Java/JavaFX, Microsoft’s XAML+Silverlight+C# engine,  Adobe’s Flash, Mozilla’s JavaScript and maybe a half a dozen others is still hard to handicap.

However that does not prevent this partly .. portly prognosticator from making the following predictions:
1)If JavaScript continues to improve in basic engine performance, JavaScript will eventually dominate the RAIA Race on every platform. JavaScript is lightweight and universal enough to run on just about any OS+CPU, it is still relatively simple to learn and code, and it has an absolutely vibrant development community as evidenced by all the great JavaScript frameworks. Congratulations Brendan Eich.
2)Flash will persist and co-exist with JavaScript because of its media savvy and great thin thin thin resource requirements. The three flies in the ointment for Flash – 1)closed +proprietary .FLA project file format plus the proprietary .swf format, 2) 3D modeling and programming is clumsy,  and 3) ActionScript 3 has a huge learning curve especially with its strict OO orientation. This already did in Visual Fred … uhhh Visual Basic. Unfortunately  neither Flex nor Flash Catalyst has succeeded in making Flash ActionScript more approachable – especially given the excellent competitive JavaScript frameworks.
3)Microsoft Silverlight/Azure/CLR is just a)a damnable rehash of dancing open and delightful and then b)shutting the doors with deep-rooted proprietary Windows-best/only solutions. This  time,  despite Mixonline, it simply wont work because Redmond has such train wrecks in its IE8 browser, cross-platform engine[Mono is a ghost of Windows CLR], and Windows OS platforms [not just Vista+Windows 7 but also  the Windows Mobile platform – talk about getting way behind]. Besides, based on its many Web inhibiting if not outright attacks, Microsoft is to Web and Mobile Development what IBM was to PCs – the Evil Empire.
4)Java/JavaFX will remain a subdued presence – the  engine delivers  superspeed on many OS+CPU platforms, its is open,  it has the programming reach, but Oracle and Larry Ellison simply do not have the time or patience or capital to see Java to fruition now – when the stakes are so high. It will take a third party to develop a great developer tool – NetBeans Matisse is suggestive but has a  huge learning-curve along with Eclipse’s  Instantiations WindowBuilder plugin.  So JavaFX needs a simple GUIBuilder par excellence; alas it does not seem to be in the cards. Congratulations Bill Gates you killed both Netscape and Java. A nod to Richard Stallman for driving in the final pure and open nails.
5)Apple is the Microsoft Wannabe. Steve Jobs will do anything but lower prices to become the next Bill Gates. Remarkably the Apple GUI and Software Development tools are heavily into Objective C and then a huge step down to AppleScript. There is not a lot of developers tools [see for yourself].
6)Google is doing a Bill Gates, investing in so many technologies to cover all its bets- is there a killer app lurking… I don’t thinks so, neither Python nor Simple Basic are it.
7)Ruby on Rails is the reverse of Flash – a great development environ and such ugly, Ugly, UGLY performance.
8)Open Laszlo is always one or two steps behind the latest Flash player and both its Flash+ JavaScript engining need a great developer tool beyond its excellent demo tools.
9)IBM, its is so sad, is really only into programming in so far as it advances its consulting business.

In short in the RAIA race to one unifying, cross platform, Presentation development  environ able to work on just about any OS+CPU platform/device both online and offline is still an open race. Flash still leads but JavaScript is coming up fast on the outside. Java/JavaFX  and OpenLaszlo still have a chance – but both need great development tools. And Google is the imminence gris behind all this with its support for JavaScript Frameworks, Google Gears, and strange Chrome OS + Android combo of operating systems entries [is this “a let the best man win” compromise at the GooglePlex?].  See, I told you Google is the new King [and Kingmaker] of Software Development.