Dojo Adds Silverlight Effects Support

Dojo Toolkit, a robust javascript library similar to my favorite js kit mootools, recently update and added some support for Silverlight effects. This is one really cool aspect of Silverlight in that it allows you to script/code it in many languages in the DLR (Dynamic Language Runtime) including ironpython, C#, IronRuby, javascript and others. Where as with Flash you only have Actionscript3 available.

Check out the Silverlight demos here:

butterfly.html 20-Aug-2007 18:19 33K
circles.html 20-Aug-2007 18:19 4.0K
clock.html 20-Aug-2007 18:19 7.3K
lion.html 20-Aug-2007 18:19 22K
tiger.html 20-Aug-2007 18:19 100K

DojoX

  • high quality implementations of previously experimental features: gfx (portable 2D drawing), data wires, offline, storage, cometd, etc.
  • dojox.gfx now includes Sliverlight support
  • many more features and improvements than there’s room for here.

Dijit

  • unified look and feel for all widgets
  • ambitious a11y and i18n features in every Dijit widget
  • a mature CSS-driven theme system with multiple, high-quality themes
  • huge improvements in system performance
  • data-bound widgets
  • Declarations for lightweight widget writing
  • a new page parser that allows instances of any class, not just widgets
  • no magic

Core

  • reduced API surface area (easier to remember and use)
  • dojo.query() always available, returns real arrays
  • from-scratch high-performance DnD system
  • Base (dojo.js) is 25K on the wire (gzipped)
  • dojo.data APIs finalized
  • new build system
  • new test harness for both CLI and browser use
  • dojo.behavior now marked stable and based on dojo.query
  • excellent animation APIs with Color animations in Base (always available)
  • all the features you’ve come to count on from Dojo (RPC, JSON-P, JSON, i18n, formatting utilities, etc.)

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Adobe AIR Apps Starting to Appear

Adobe AIR apps are starting to pop up more. After the Grant Skinner AIR app for digg.com it appears Kevin Rose has launched pownce which is a twitter/email/friend/social sharing site/service. The desktop app for pownce.com is built with AIR. I believe AIR will really take off with these types of apps succeeding on it. Pownce is only alpha but it is hard to see it not being successful with the amount of digg users that will spill over.

Pownce (you have to be invited to private alpha)

Other apps for AIR so far that are usable and ready:

FineTune
Competitor to last.fm. I wonder how long til a last.fm air app.



Digg Desktop Widget (from Adobe sponsored digg API contest)

Other AIR apps can be viewed here including kuler, a twitter app and more. And also here at Rob Christensen’s blog.

The AIR iPhone Desktop Widget

merhl has created an Adobe AIR iPhone widget for using the AIR runtime that is pretty cool.  It only has some sample screens for most buttons in it but you can actually browse the web on it using the web browser and it flips sideways to show the screen flip.  Check out your website or blog on the desktop iPhone.  Get your AIR iPhone now!

 

merhl has made it auto updating with AIR so as he adds more functionality it will autoupdate.  That is one neat aspect of doing desktop app/widget work with flash and AS3 in AIR is that it is much more capable of syncing content and that content is usually extremely optimized for fast delivery and keeping it up to date.  Plus you can make chrome and shiny things with it.

Comparison of Widget Libraries for Flash Desktop Widgets

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Widgets are here!

Widget libraries for the desktop are beginning to be more prevalent with OSX, Vista and many widget toolkits such as Yahoo Widgets (previously Konfabulator). 

Here’s a great blog post(on yahoo so its slightly biased) but its pretty even handed on comparing the widget libraries from Yahoo, Google, Microsoft and Apple.

Desktop Widgets, Cross Platform please… 

However, if you are trying to create a desktop widget (flash or AJAX based) that is for the desktop that is cross platform (in terms of Windows and MAC) the list quickly filters to the following types of tools:

  • Yahoo! Widget Library or other widget library
  • A Flash Desktop App Creator such as MDM ZINC (Embedded Flash in an application, ZINC is the best in my opinion)
  • Adobe Apollo (RC Alpha, this has been in development and usable for developers for a couple of years but should launch by Q3/4 2007)
  • Microsoft WPF/E(Not out for a while, now called “Silverlight”)

Widgets that are too platform specific 

Essentially the Vista and MAC OSX widgets are cool, but unusable if we are only developing one codebase for all platforms. 

Google Desktop Widgets (http://desktop.google.com/plugins/) don’t work on a MAC, Windows Gadgets (http://microsoftgadgets.com/) do not work on a MAC and MAC OSX Widgets to not work on Windows Vista.  If we are only considering cross platform widget libraries these are all nixed.

So that leaves us with essentially three choices from before.

Pros and Cons

1) Yahoo! Widget Library
PROS:

  • Good user base already (Konfabulator has been around since 2002-2003)
  • Familiar name (for download support)
  • Easy to use
  • Fairly easy to develop/design (have to learn the XML/DHTML lib of Yahoo Widgets which can be limiting)

CONS:

  • NO VIDEO SUPPORT (videos would have to be linked to)

2) A Flash Desktop App Creator such as MDM ZINC
PROS:

  • Allows Flash to be wrapped with a flexible skinnable application.
  • Develop in Flash Actionscript and minimal integration calls
  • Supports playing Flash Video FLV

CONS:

  • Each user would need to download the application.
  • Would only work when downloading from a trusted site.

3) Adobe Apollo
PROS:

  • Allows cross platform support for one file type .air.
  • Develop in Flash Actionscript and minimal integration calls.
  • Excellent toolkits and development power.
  • Supports playing Flash Video FLV.

CONS:

  • Each user would need to download the Apollo runtime.
  • Not out fully yet.

4) Microsoft WPF/E
PROS:

  • Develop in .NET C# or other .NET languages
  • Excellent toolkits and development power.

CONS:

  • Each user would need to download the WPF/E runtime.
  • Not out fully yet.
  • Lack of support for FLV video which has become the Internet standard essentially.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Conclusion…

If you had to build an application that would run on the user’s desktop and this application woudl need to support FLV video and be cross platform in terms of Windows and MAC, the choice is down to Adobe Apollo and A Flash Desktop App Creator such as MDM ZINC simply because WPF/E is too large a download currently for the runtime.  

Apollo is more of a risk in the interim due to the lack of the Apollo runtime not being propogated but a very large technology company is behind Apollo (Adobe) and in a short time it will be prevalent.  Using MDM ZINC the user will still have to download the program to run and does not provide the tools for the desktop as good as Apollo. 

My opinion, Apollo might be better for cross platform simple apps that can be widget like or bigger.  A smart development might be developing the widget in Flash and then putting it into BOTH Apollo and MDM ZINC to offer users both ways to download only supporting one codebase in the main core application/widget.