A reader from Germany writes:
I agree regarding the support of open standards such as HTML 5, which OpenLaszlo heartily supports too. The greater standards compliance we have, the better.
But it is amusing that Jobs contrasts the ubiquitous Flash player with the ubiquity of the Webkit “player”. The primary difference is that Webkit is open source, which presumably saves us from being beholden to any one manufacturer for bug fixes. But in reality, that depends on whether individual manufacturers track the latest releases of Webkit on their devices. Somehow I don’t think that any phone manufacturer has a provision to run the Webkit nightly on their phone. [We have even run into this in Safari. The Webkit team made a severe optimization error in the current squirrelfish engine that OL tripped over (incorrect caching of prototype properties). They pretty quickly developed a fix for it and we verified it in the nightly, but they had to advise us that there was no way that fix would be out in a release for at least 6 months. So OL has to browser sniff and at runtime adopt a much less efficient class implementation on the current Safari release.]
The battery life and performance issue is a marginal point. Clearly they could set a standard/licensing term for that and just say that Flash has not met the bar (yet).
I disagree vehemently with the current license stance (which Jobs does not address in his note) that they are using to further lock Adobe out from delivering a cross-platform development environment. This has created a substantial amount of collateral damage. For instance, take the Frotz app, which implements the Infocom Z-machine. Technically under Apple’s current license this app is illegal and will eventually be removed from the store (it has not so far). Another that has already been removed is the Scratch player. This is in no one’s best interest. Scratch is potentially creating the next generation of programmers!
OpenLaszlo is not affected by the license, as I pointed out in my blog post, because we deliver a web app, not a native app. Presumably all interpreters could do the same, but that just points up the ridiculousness of the license restriction — it boils down to “you may only run an interpreter on the iPhone if it requires a network connection”. Huh?
How does one define an interpreter? Every program is an interpreter because every program has data that drives the state changes. iTunes is an interpreter of mp3’s. How is that any different that the Frotz player interpreting a .z5 file? Where do you draw the line between data and interpreted program?
A reader from San Francisco writes:
Dear Lazzie, I was reading this article, and it seems to spell doom for OpenLaszlo on the iPhone and iPad. Should I worry?
OpenLaszlo is indeed a cross-compiler, translating from the high-level declarative LZX language to various runtimes, such as Flash and DHTML. But, because OpenLaszlo generates standards-compliant HTML web apps, it is not covered by the Apple SDK agreement. Any application that runs in Mobile Safari will continue to run, regardless of how that application is generated.
OpenLaszlo does have the unique advantage of being able to generate a Flash-based version of your application if you need to deliver in an environment where CSS2/HTML4-compliant web browsers are not available, or if you need to integrate with other Flash-based technologies. But if your application is being delivered to modern web browsers (which includes the browser for the iPad and iPhone), OpenLaszlo can generate a DHTML-based version of your application with no changes required on your part.
In theory, OpenLaszlo could follow the approach of Adobe’s CS5 and build another back-end to generate native iPhone apps. If they did that, they would find themselves in the same boat as Adobe — developers using their product would be in violation of the new Apple SDK agreement:
What remains to be seen is how Apple will enforce this new agreement, and whether the market (the ultimate arbiter) will go along with them. Veterans of the business will surely be reminded of IBM vs. Telex, where IBM tried to lock out competitors from making compatible peripherals for its mainframes. IBM succeeded for a long while; even wearing down the government’s effort to bring an anti-trust case against them. But in the long run, the market ruled against them (by moving away from mainframes altogether).
Power to the people!
: It’s ironic that OpenLaszlo is able to generate applications for the Flash 10 player because Adobe’s FLEX SDK is open source. OpenLaszlo cross-compiles to ActionScript 3 and then uses the Adobe SDK to compile from there to Flash.
A reader from Plymouth writes,
Well, here’s a problem:
Can you spot it? When
Well, I won’t bore you with more gory details, but the bottom line is, every time we compare
The storal of the morey is, when you want to compare for “identity”, use the “strict equals operator” (
A reader from Maine asks:
I am a hacker.
The popular press has co-opted the label “hacker”, which was originally a compliment of your high degree of computer skills, to mean a person who uses those skills for evil.1
If you are asking “Could I break into someone’s computer”, the answer is “yes”. There is no magic here. I started my computer career working in computer security at MITRE. And, believe it or not, things have not really changed much since those days. If anything, computer security has gone downhill quite a bit. No one has ever succeeded in commercializing the research we did (to build a secure system from the ground up), instead commercial enterprises have all focussed on selling “barn door” solutions, so called because they are attempts to close the barn door, despite the fact that a lot of (Trojan) horses have already been through…
 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hacker(computing)#Hackerdefinition_controversy “Hacker (computing) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia”
We are pleased to announce that OpenLaszlo 4.3 is available now. You can download it from the OpenLaszlo Download page. It is the recommended platform for all application development for the SWF8, SWF9, and DHTML runtimes. OpenLaszlo 4.3 is a major release, with almost 300 bugs fixed since OpenLaszlo 4.2 introduced the SWF9 runtime.
A reader from Germany writes:
I look at it this way: OpenLaszlo is practically a separate entity. Laszlo is our main sponsor, so we mostly do what they ask. But, we do have other sponsors: G.ho.st directly, others through support contracts. So they also get attention. Community stuff comes last, because that has no $ attached to it. But community leaders can be given commit privileges and see their goals achieved directly.
While OpenLaszlo is a valuable technology base, the company can’t make (as much) money off of it as they can with a proprietary product. Laszlo is doing kind of the same thing as Apple: adding proprietary value to an open-source base. And, we like that, because it means they can “donate” more money to the OpenLaszlo team. :)
Laszlo is a venture-backed company, and venture capitalists are all about making money. They pretty much only see as far as the Webtop licenses. But the management has been made well aware of how the community has made the base they build on much more solid than what they would get with a closed source.
We knew it would be a lot of work, but we knew if we could do it, we would really prove we had a platform-independent language in LZX, and we ended up with a much more robust system in the end.
There is a rule of thumb: 2 ports does not make you platform-independent, it is the 3rd that is the test!
Let me conclude by saying, overall you are right. OpenLaszlo needs more publicity, whether for Laszlo as a company, or just for it’s own growth. Let’s hope this little post can help it along the way…
We recently had a bug report that the debugger started issuing a warning in code where it had not before:
The initial fix proposed was to simply change:
Since the OpenLaszlo compiler does not do common-subexpression elimination, when you are trying to optimize things, pretend you are writing in 1985 C. Instead of:
Even better, when you find yourself having to write a null check, ask yourself if it would be cleaner, simpler, and more efficient to have the variable you are referencing not be nullable. For instance, if a variable is an array, consider using an empty array for its initial value, rather than null. This is a time/space trade-off: if there are many operations on the array and the variable is almost always not null, it will be more efficient to use an empty array; if there are few operations and the variable is usually null, then not allocating the empty array is the better choice.
Even though we don’t yet support the type declarations, we can follow the pattern and be ready…)
A reader from Maynard asks:
Continue reading "Undefined redux"
A reader from San Mateo writes:
An object is just a hash table, and there is no implicit order of elements of a hash table (Java has
If you want to iterate over an array’s entries in order, use
If you want to iterate over an object’s keys in a particular order, you have to pull the keys out into an array, sort that array, and then iterate over that array:
See also the yellow box caution here.