Thursday, April 12, 2007

The Presentation Layer: Open Laszlo vs Flex


So I have been evaluation several presentation layer frameworks, trying to choose one for may future applications at my new job... my boss is very interested in developing applications with a "cinematic" experience... so, the main contenders are:

  • Open Laszlo 4
  • Flex 2

So far, the main advantage of each one are:

Open Laszlo 4:

  • OpenSource (& free both ways)
  • Flash & JScript UI generation
  • Cinematic user experience

Flex 2:

  • Flash UI generation
  • Free SDK (but AFAIK not OpenSource)
  • Cinematic user experience
  • UI Builder
  • Interactive debugger
  • Syntax Colored Editor for the Scripts
  • Lots of Beginner to Advanced Tutorials
  • Lots of Books
  • Lots of examples with matching tutorials & books
  • Cairngorm architectural framework
  • E4X Support
  • Based on ECMAScript 4

The main disadvantages of Laszlo are Flex strength (and viceversa):

Open Laszlo 4:

  • No UI Builder
  • No interactive debugger
  • No syntax coloring for the scripts
  • Lack of advanced tutorials online
  • Lack of Books (There are only 2, one from the reviews I have read seems to be pretty much a copy of Laszlo reference documentation, and the other I think will be a really good one, but it is unfinished)
  • Lack on architectural frameworks or guidance (nothing like Cairngorm is available)
  • No E4X support
  • Based on ECMAScript 3 (older version)

Flex 2:

  1. Not OpenSource
  2. DataServices are expensive (but maybe the Granite project will change that)
  3. The UI Builder needs lots of RAM (1 Gbyte is recommended by Adobe)
  4. The UI Builder is an Eclipse plugin (this is a personal disadvantage, because I prefer Netbeans)

I really wanted Laszlo to win this competition ( I just really like the product, the idea, and I believe competition is good for customers, so I feel that keeping Laszlo alive will be good for the future of both Laszlo & Flex consumers...) but... so far, it seems that Laszlo main advantage as an opensource project (community & books support) is just not as advanced as Flex's (no good finished Laszlo books, no list of best practices, architectural guidance or architectural framework) so, I think the winner, for me, will have to be, for now, Flex... (but I hope that next year Laszlo improves, and I hope I have the chance to use it in future projects)

My wish list for Open Laszlo 4.5:

  • Lots of beginner to expert tutorials of full applications (with real world authentication & authorization & architecture best practices)
  • Books, books, books!
  • IDE agnostic UI Builder (something like what is available for TIBCO)
  • Architectural Framework (something like Flex's Cairngorm but for Laszlo)
  • J2EE Integration (something like Flex's Granite project)
  • Interactive IDE integrated script debugger (even if only for Eclipse)

My wish list for Open Laszlo 5.0:

  • E4X support
  • ECMAScript 4 support
  • Something like GWT of Echo2 but with Laszlo as the underlying infrastructure. (Java only coding)

Well, now I'll just wait and see...

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