Ajax (not the foaming cleanser)

Edd Dumbill is talking about Ajax. It looks as if there is a Ajax summit going on. Also, the Ruby on Rails guys are getting all Ajax-y with it. I'm one of the many watching from the sidelines and tossing out the occaisional barb.

I'm wondering why we don't just abandon HTML. Sure, HTTP is a fine protocol for doing alot of stuff. Let's keep that. However, DHTML and things like Ajax are attempts to cling to a presentation method that we're clearly outgrowing.

Here's an idea - why don't we come up with a cross-platform, easy to program user interface language. Something that tools can sit on top of. Also, it's gotta' be something you can validate for correctness like XML. I don't want any more of that quirky parsing behavior (Do you hear me IE?).

Yeah, I've heard of XForms. But I don't think that cuts it. Clearly we need to encapsulate the event model as well as the presentation. We also want rich interactivity. Why should we limit ourselves to forms? We want canvases and crazy custom controls built for our cross-platform UI language.

You gonna' come at me with Java applets or Macromedia Flash? Please... You've seen the lack luster appeal of those technologies as well as I have.

Yes, Avalon does sound good. But, you know that's only going to be on one platform! Sure, the Mono gang may be able to port it. However, Microsoft will still be in charge of the standard.

Shouldn't we have a rich, cross-platform, distributed UI standard/language/toolkit by now? I think we could if everyone would turn away from their lock-in strategies and general silliness.


Mark Birbeck said...

Well, we do have all the things you say. Check out our Sidewinder Viewer and formsPlayer 2. It supports XForms and SVG via plug-ins, and uses XBL to bind the whole lot together. You'll see clock and button widgets defined with SVG, but that are sized and coloured using your form's CSS. You'll see 'standalone' applications that run outside of the browser, but are written in XHTML, and interface with Google Maps, ADO databases, and Google Desktop Search. There's more, but if you are interested, take a look at my blog, as well as the XForms Wiki.

All the best!


Tom Pierce said...

Thanks for writing, Mark. I'm subscribing to your blog so that I can stay informed.

Unfortunately, the plug-in only works with Internet Explorer version 6 for Windows, so I haven't taken a look at it yet. I'll check it out from my Windows machine sometime.