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

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


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