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What’s OpenLaszlo then?

OpenLaszlo  is a web application development environment designed for developing Rich Internet Applications (RIAs). RIAs are web apps that have highly developed user interfaces, where the requirements for interactivity may go beyond the standard HTML form style interaction.

Programs in OpenLaszlo are written in XML style syntax and it offers multiple ways of deploying applications in both Adobe Flash and DHTML formats. The possiblities for integrating OpenLaszlo applications with other server side technologies and the overall sophistication of the architecture make it an excellent contender for use in web systems that require advanced user interface features.

As the name suggests it is an open source platform and development of it started in 2001. It is now a mature development environment and has been used to develop many sophisticated commercial applications such as LaszloMail (a webmail system).

Having been testing it for a short time, I can see there are some obvious selling points. Due to the XML style syntax used in the programs you develop with it, there is seemless integration with XML data, unlike JavaFX which requires use of their provided XML parser to obtain data from XML sources. In fact in OpenLaszlo a <dataset> tag is supplied for easy binding of XML data into your application. This essentially makes it simple to provide dynamic user interface features, which would allow for example customisable interfaces.

I expect the platform will personally be useful for developing sections of sites that require more advanced UI elements, and in some instances fully dynamic pages. So far I’ve found the syntax very straightforward to learn and generally quite intuitive. At some point I’ll look at how best to integrate OpenLaszlo features or pages within a J2EE context.

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