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Faces and Flash?

Posted by johnreynolds on July 22, 2005 at 6:47 AM PDT

I came across an announcement for IBM's Faces for Laszlo this morning.

I haven't had time to delve into the details, but my impression is that they're "filling in" some of the missing Rich Internet Application pieces that I've wanted for a long time.

My professional introduction to Java was through Applets and JSP pages. I needed browser components that were "snazzy" and "dynamic". In my case I needed to display a dynamically updating network topology as part of a browser-based management console for an InfiniBand network.

Creating an applet/servlet pair to display the network topology was really quite simple due to the beta release of Gaudenz Alder's wonderful JGraph and a newly minted web application framework from Apache that was called "Struts".

The difficult part of this project was bridging the gap between our applets and "standard" JSP components and pages. Applet to applet communication and Applet to servlet (JSP) communication required some judicious tweaking.

Many times during the project we questioned the sanity of our decision to mix and match... we should have stuck to straight JSP, or we should have built one big monolithic applet (Java Web Start made its debut after this project was already well underway). Fortunately, the result was a pretty nifty web application... kind of ugly under-the-covers, but it worked well. Sadly, InfiniBand tubed and I got to collect unemployment.

But I digress...

IBM's Faces for Laszlo seems to be solving a problem very similar to the one that I faced when trying to blend applets and JSP pages with Struts. Faces for Laszlo provides server-side plumbing to ease the creation of web applications that combine Flash components and JSF components.

"How does it work?

Through a JSF custom tag library, developers using Faces for Laszlo can integrate OpenLaszlo components into their Web applications. These components can bind to server-side data that is made available as JavaScript data structures within the browser at run time. Any changes to this client-side data representation are immediately reflected by all subscribed OpenLaszlo and DHTML components."

Coupled with Eclipse IDE support, this "Flash and Faces" technology might be a very interesting technology to look into.

Now if I can just find something similar for "Applets and Faces", my life will be complete ;-)

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