OpenLaszlo – Cool Flash for Clunky Java people

Flash is created by cool people who wear black and use Apple Macs. If you’re not sure as to what flash is, the chances are that if you’ve seen something on the web recently that made you go ‘wow’ for it’s coolness, then it was built using Adobe Flash.

To add substance to this froth Java people can use Flash (instead of normal web pages) to create cool pages that do useful stuff. For example Google Analytics uses Java and Flash to create a stunning User Interface. Even though Ajax and DHTML give you a lot of interactivity on your web pages, Flash goes one better at the small cost of not being as good for SEO and requiring a plugin (that most people already have installed).

So, what are you to do if you want to combine the coolness of Flash with the heavy lifting of Enterprise Java on the Server? The two main options are:

  1. Flex from Adobe is one way for Java people to create flash. The core toolkit is free, but the editor costs about $500 and that’s before you pay for using it on your servers. More details in the previous blogposts on Adobe Apollo and Adobe Flex.
  2. Open Laszlo Project is open source all the way, but does’t have a drag and drop editor (i.e. it’s more technical than graphical). Still , it allows you to create some cool effects , such as this Flash Clock.

Which framework will win out? I don’t know , and that’s before you even consider the Standard Java Web Frameworks such as Struts 2.

More (In progess) notes on Open Java and Flash are on the wiki. In an impulse buy , I bought the OpenLaszlo in Action yesterday. As an EBook , with rebate (coupon LZ35607 before the end of August) it costs about 10 Euro. Initial impressions are good (both for the book and Open Laszlo) , but I’m still working my way through it (so don’t quote me on it).

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Disclaimer: I get a rebate if you buy the book from Amazon, but not if you buy the (Cheaper) E-Book direct from Manning. I bought the E-Book this time, but have got free books from Manning in the past for having reviewed (as yet unpublished) JBoss items.


  1. Yet another post revolving around Lazlo with incorrect statements in regards to Flex during comparison. If this is what it takes to recruit for Lazlo…it’s a sad state of affairs.

    Best to be careful which hand you bite sir as without Adobe’s flashplayer to target Lazlo would be so much fodder. While I think anyone should have the right to choose whatever platform they desire or fits their needs, I do expect technology related websites who bring the subjects up to offer at least somewhat factual data for end users to base opinions and choices on.

  2. Chris,

    I agree that technology related websites and commenters need to be factual – so you should clarify that Adobe does not have the only flashplayer; There are numerous open source alternatives, including the one used by Nokia and others on mobile devices.

    Still sticking to the facts, You should also correct your spelling; I would have thought that a Flash guru such as yourself would know that Laszlo is spelt with an ‘s’.

    On my part the 1 mistake (server pricing) was corrected within 40 minutes (thanks to Aidan). I don’t understand how that makes me a Laszlo bigot, especially when I criticize Laszlo for the lack of a good IDE. On my current project I’m using Adobe (not Laszlo) tools.

    In my work, I’m often in a position to promote frameworks used in a project. The choice here is not Flex v Laszlo, but Flash v normal HTML generated by Struts, Spring MVC and Dojo etc.

    One of the key factors in this choice is the strength and friendliness of the community; if your comment on a very-favourable-to-flash-post is anything to go by, then people in Java community will be very reluctant to take up any Flash tool and stick with plain (but slightly more boring) HTML.


  3. Flash guru?…surely not talking to me.

    Why the need to mention the $500 IDE if they both offer a free environment to code with?. It tends to make one think Adobe is all about the money and Laslo (:)) is all about the free love. That coupled with your earlier mistake in the same paragraph (which I see is better served being corrected in a byline than an actual edit) about cost to serve doesn’t lead me to believe you are in an unbiased position to compare.

    As for friendliness…what say we let java developers choose a framework based on ability and leave silly references to friendliness to things like boy scout meetings and church socials. Putting out incorrect information in the blogesphere isn’t going to garner all rosey comments.

  4. Chris,

    Main post updated , and at least we can agree that neither of us are Flash guru’s (yet).

    I do mention that in Flex ‘the core toolkit is free’. Regarding the $500 for the Editor / IDE , would you prefer that I mislead readers by omission, and not mention a key fact?

    Sounds like your beef should be with Adobe’s PR: they have a good story to tell about Flex; but as you say, the smaller (and commercial) Lazslo has got the more favourable (‘free love’) perception.


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