WARNING: This blog contains random thoughts on technology, software engineering, and general all-round nerdery. Read at your own risk. Nerd is contagious.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Boxely mentioned in TopCoder's TC Channel

TopCoder recently launched the "TC Channel" which is a new video podcast site where the TC staff deliver news and information in the world of TopCoder.

What's interesting is that Boxely is (briefly) mentioned in their first episode!
There's no indication of time on their video timeline, but we're mentioned around the 10% mark.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Okay Already

So there's obviously a lot of buzz around Silverlight from Microsoft. It's gotten people asking a lot of questions also within AOL. What's gonna happen to Boxely? How can it compete against Microsoft? Etc.

We don't know the answers to the questions yet, and we're looking into it. There's been a lot of positive and negative opinions on Microsoft's latest offering, so I've decided to check out WPF from the context of Boxely. I'll post my findings and guides to getting set up with WPF. So to the two of you who read this blog, watch this space :)

Some of you may be thinking, "Why WPF? Why not Silverlight?" Well, WPF is the desktop solution for applications (like Boxely), while Silverlight is targeted for the Web. (Silverlight is a subset of WPF, in case you didn't know). So the real question is how does Boxely hold up against WPF, not Silverlight. When we decide to release a "Boxely Web runtime", I'll take a look at Silverlight.

First things first. WPF needs .NET Framework 3.0. If you have Vista, stop now; it's already installed. But on XP, you need to download a 2.8MB installer. Oh no wait, I'm sorry, it's 26MB! That's right folks, don't be fooled by the size of the installer. That alone is just the piece that goes and fetches the actual components. Kinda made me wonder why the bootstrap installer is still 2.8MB. I suppose there's logic in there to pick and choose what components are really needed based on your system configuration, but whatever.

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Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Back in the day

When I started at AOL, I didn't really realize how much client UI platforms needed a kick in the butt. I had come from a Java AWT/Swing world. While I'd gotten pretty handy with its layout managers (i usually would write the UI part by hand as well, because the "WYSIWYG" editors at the time would barf out hundreds (thousands?) of lines of code), getting to use Boxely for the first time I was blown away.

In hindsight, I shouldn't have been, because I'd done some web programming and it shouldn't have been such an eye opener to see an easy-to-use declarative layout engine actually running. Of course, I should have also known about Mozilla's development of XUL and their Gecko layout engine. (Interestingly, I used to look up XULPlanet's references when I was starting out learning Boxely)

Since then, a lot more players have set their sites on being the next "UI" platform. Adobe Apollo, of course, and Microsoft's XAML (in WPF and Silverlight). OpenLaszlo is also saying "don't forget about us!" Mozilla is working hard on greatly improving their layout engine (Gecko 1.9) and their graphics (codenamed Cairo?), set to drop for Firefox 3.

I'm not sure what Boxely's position is in this new landscape. We're desktop-only right now, though we are working on running inside a browser (essentially creating a "/e" version of our platform). Cross platform is something we're also very interested in.

Still Boxely has some tricks up its sleeve; It uses the blazing fast graphics renderer written (mostly) by Sree Kotay. The styling system, in my opinion is better than CSS if only because it's XML-based, and we support animations in a very easy-to-use markup language.

2007 is definitely shaping up to be the Platform Wars. I'm sure I'm not the only one following this very closely...

Update: Looks like Sun's jumping onto the bandwagon with JavaFX