First Java, then Ajax, and now ... Flash?

Bruce Eckel argues that Flash is the new, new thing. He's particularly keen on Flex, which compiles Actionscript, a superset of ECMAscript, to run on Flash. I agree with him when he says "applications of any complexity using HTML, CSS and JavaScript are difficult and expensive to develop", and also agree that a big motivator for using Javascript or Flash is that there are far fewer installation problems than Java. Perhaps we should consider setting up Links to generate either Javascript or Flash. Thanks to Greg Morrisett for pointing me at the article.

I have spent the last few months developing a web-based Java IDE (I'm a 4th Year CS student at Edinburgh). Very strangely, I was drawn to your blog because a current third year is considering developing a web-based IDE using Links. It led me to this article, which coincidently contains the same sort of information that I concluded my dissertation on. JavaScript has reached its limit (and its absolutely shocking to develop with). Java Applets are very much dead. People haven't until recently taken Flash very seriously, although it is a seriously powerful, cross platform, well supported, quick-starting, good-looking application! To make Links future proof, I think Flash generation (although complicated) would definitely be a good direction to take it in... Flash seems to me the future of the front-end for RIAs.

Now and then I hack on a version of Flapjax to do just that. They're very close, with ActionScript being a step ahead and having a better VM, except Adobe is donating everything to Firefox, meaning JavaScript will catch up. I've always wanted a DOM implementation in Flash, which would probably achieve all the necessary parity, except the engineers have found it a little too tricky. I think Dan Weld's work on generating interfaces relative to user needs is interesting - I can imagine compiling to Flash, JS, or HTML+server state based on context.

We actually use Flash to get around some security issues that would normally force us to use our host as a proxy service :)

- Leo
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