Open Laszlo

Cool, Laszlo has played the open card.

I am not surprised, but I am very pleased.

It’s tough creating the buzz of activity and complements around a tool like Laszlo. Worse, if you don’t create that good-olde network effect then your stuck. You maybe able to have a certain level of success but that even that’s not durable over time.

Laszlo is a very elegant work. For example: play with the examples of constraints that appear on this page in the manual.

Opening up Laszlo could create bloom of new UI. There are some huge pools of data out there that could get a new presentation skin. Google, eBay, delicious, movable type, word press, … it’s not a short list. There are early examples of this kind of UI out there. Go look at flicker for example.

I had been hearing VC talk about how flash was going to disrupt the client side; i had been discounting that – self interested speakers an all that. I need to revisit that chatter.

Putting on my health of the industry hat, or my paranoid CTO hat, the thing I notice about Laszlo is the dependency on Flash. It really is amazing that the folks at Macromedia have managed to get such a huge piece of real estate on the installed base of client side machines. How did that slip past the guards at Microsoft! Adobe tried, with SVG, but that certainly didn’t work out. I tip my hat to them!

For years and years the GPL community was very careful to avoid standing on top of Motif because they didn’t perceive it as being sufficiently open. A similar careful critique should now be made of the Flash platform. We have suffered a lot because the client side fell into the hands of Microsoft; handing it over to Macromedia would be better but it wouldn’t necessarily be good.

Recently I have been looking at RDF. I blame Stefano. RDF strives to displace the HTML/XML as the canonical data model. That’s a tall order. HTML seized that turf because it was simple enough because it was presentation oriented. XML hides behind HTML’s success. RDF, well it’s not clear what “go to market” benefit is.

One of the wonders of the HTTP/HTML bloom has been how it created a huge amount of casual revealing of information. The presentation standard, HTML encourages casual revealing in a form that automation can swallow. This created the landscape (the platform) for the search engines. It’s not clear if that landscape will survive a transition to a richer presentation platform. Data hides behind UI. It’s not clear if that landscape will survive a transition to a richer data exchange protocol – particularly if it’s name is SOAP.

Data hides behind UI.

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