Despite some of the headlines , the only Flash used in this project is the Flash Player and SWF file format. It ‘s Laszlo all the way. Laszlo Mail is the first commercial application that we’re building on top of Open Laszlo, the open source platform.
It has been great working with the EarthLink team on this project. It is good to see that this huge company still has awesome engineers, sensible product managers, and executives who will sponsor innovation to deliver great applications to their customers.
The Laszlo tech has really made this application practical. Immersed in the code, I sometimes feel like I’ve been working on it forever. Taking a step back, I am amazed at the speed of development. As it turns out, e-mail has evolved to have a fairly large minimum feature set and there are a lot of details to get right. In the continuum of web applications from a single form to multiple transactions and dynamic data usually associated with an RIA, this app is on the far end of the spectrum. While the whole app is complex, it can still be divided into modular code for effective team development.
Most of my experience developing applications has been with UI frameworks, written in C++. In my experience these traditional methodologies create a process which is fairly rigid in the latter stages of development. Changes are possible, but expensive. The good teams carefully schedule time for specific design changes which are always necessary, but often can only be seen once the features are all working together. I can only imagine the challenges of such changes in the fragile environment offered by DHTML. I have found working on Laszlo applications to be a refreshing change. I’m used to having to so “no” all the time starting about half way through the development process. With Laszlo, I have been able to say “yes” more often. Relative late in the development cycle, we were able to experiment with UI changes that I never would had the time-luxury to consider in a desktop app. Development cycles have only gotten shorter with the move to web applications, with the Laszlo platform I find we can make good use of that time.
It’s a lot of fun to work in LZX, the Laszlo XML-based language. Every development environment has its challenges, but I continue to enjoy the flexibility of the Laszlo platform relative to traditional application development. I’ve been impressed at how quickly new engineers at Laszlo and the folks at EarthLink have come up to speed in this new language and new style of application development.