Matt RaibleMatt Raible is a Web Architecture Consultant specializing in open source frameworks.

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Over 10 years ago, I wrote my first blog post. Since then, I've authored books, had kids, traveled the world, found Trish and blogged about it all.

Building Rich Applications with Appcelerator

This afternoon, I delivered my Building Rich Applications with Appcelerator talk for the 3rd time at Colorado Software Summit. When I first proposed this topic, I hadn't used Appcelerator and saw this as a good opportunity to learn more about it. I'm glad I did.

IMO, Appcelerator is a lot like Dojo in how it parses pages and turns HTML with special attributes into JavaScript widgets. I can't help but think a pre-compilation step would be nice to speed things up. I like Appcelerator's extensive Widget Library, and I especially like that they re-use many widgets rather than re-creating their own. Finally, I really dig the "SOA in a browser" approach where everything is a message and you can easily publish and subscribe to events - on the client and server. Below is my presentation, please let me know if you have any questions.

Posted in Java at Oct 22 2008, 04:18:42 PM MDT 9 Comments

Great presentation - and fair, especially on our weaknesses....

We're working pretty hard and we're pretty brand new compared to Flex, GWT and the established players. We're growing fast however.

A few comments:

  • You will be able to pre-compile thing in the future - something on "the list"
  • Registration for the website and app will go away in about 2 weeks when we launch the updated dev/distribution site.
  • We do have a book titled "Appcelerator In Action" by Manning being written by Kevin Whinnery
  • The 3.0 release coming out soon will switch from prototype/scriptaculous to jQuery for our core JS base and will introduce both declarative ajax (what we have today) as well as programmatic apis -- so, you can choose the best model that fits your requirements and style.

However, one thing I'm not sure what you mean by "full-stack framework" means...? can you elaborate?

Thanks again

Posted by Jeff Haynie on October 22, 2008 at 04:29 PM MDT #

Posting from my iPhone - looking forward to checking out your presentation, though...

Posted by Kevin Whinnery on October 22, 2008 at 05:17 PM MDT #

Hopefully we'll be able to revisit the issue of Appcelerator not being a good RESTful web service client after our next release. We've recently added some functionality for mapping remote messages to a RESTful back end, so RESTful services could be integrated into the client side messaging system.

And just as a point of order, most of us still like to code JavaScript. What we're trying to achieve with the Web Expression Language is a more terse, natural language(ish) syntax to handle common programming tasks (specifically event handling). Although, there are certainly times when it is easier to code straight JavaScript in an Appcelerator application.

Posted by Kevin Whinnery on October 22, 2008 at 07:18 PM MDT #

However, one thing I'm not sure what you mean by "full-stack framework" means...? can you elaborate?

When I first read about Appcelerator and watched screencasts, its directory structure looked similar to Rails and Grails. That and other things I read caused me to assume I could do everything in an Appcelerator app. I was somewhat disappointed to find I had to add my own ORM framework. If Hibernate was a simple plugin, it might be different - but I ended up having to add JARs to the lib directory by hand. This "everything in one directory" seems a bit old-school IMO, especially after working with Maven/Ivy and their dependency scoping features.

Of course, if I'd never had the impression that it was a full-stack framework and knew up-front that it was more like GWT and Flex, it's likely I wouldn't have been disappointed. Just a personal issue most likely. ;-)

Posted by Matt Raible on October 22, 2008 at 08:13 PM MDT #

Hello Mr. Raible, I'm starting right now a new project and I'll use Smartclient as javascript library (maybe I'll switch to SmartGWT when it'll be out). I want to adopt a SOFEA/SOUI approach. I want to know if you have ever evaluated Smartclient. If yes, what do you think of it? Here in Italy it seems completely unknown.

Posted by Claudio on October 23, 2008 at 01:03 AM MDT #

Do you by any chance have the demo for your presentation?

Posted by Metaele on October 23, 2008 at 01:55 AM MDT #

@Claudio - I've never used Smartclient or SmartGWT. However, I do know Sanjiv (who is developing SmartGWT) and trust that he's doing great work.

@Metaele - The demo isn't something I'd like to show as it's pretty simple.

Posted by Matt Raible on October 23, 2008 at 09:38 AM MDT #

fyi, front page goes blank in Konqueror. I know probably no one uses that, but still...

Posted by Andreas Andreou on October 26, 2008 at 08:21 PM MDT #

How do you think Appcelerator compares to other modern Ajax platforms that try to shield developers from having to know the intricacies of JavaScript? Feel free to speak to any that you may have had experience with:

Posted by Mike S. on November 10, 2008 at 09:26 AM MST #

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