Mature AJAX toolkit rewards learners of BXML with highly interactive Web clients
Backbase Web clients are amazing. The company offers several customizable examples that make it simple to spin up a Web page with objects to drag and drop. One example lets you create four windows with news and weather in them. They float in the browser like real windows float in an OS. It’s no stretch to say you could create a complete Mac-like interface in just a few lines in the HTML file.
About that HTML file: Backbase pages have an HTML suffix and the Web server treats them as such, but these files actually bear little likeness to HTML. They do contain familiar HTML tags, but the most sophisticated Backbase files are filled with Backbase’s own version of XML called BXML.
For instance, a Backbase Web page includes a link tag that starts off with an ‘a’ like a standard link, but it includes unfamiliar attributes such as b:action=‘load’ or b:url=‘window-01.xml’ or b:mode=‘aslastchild.’ These are parsed by the Backbase libraries and interpreted by them.
Back and Forth
The pages themselves are highly interactive and responsive. Click on items, and the Web page morphs to describe them or sell them without triggering an AJAX lover’s worst nightmare: the interminable loading of a new Web page. If you purchase something, the Backbase code drops an item in the shopping cart simply by rewriting the HTML. You can even set up a page to let you drag things to a shopping cart -- a wonderfully intuitive touch that has always eluded Web designers.
The code even shows flashes of brilliance. There were several moments when I was pleasantly surprised by the raw power of the mechanism. My favorite detail may be the built-in debugger that pops up floating windows when you hit the escape key. You view internal data structures such as the BXML DOM or trace the events that get fired. When the code is finalized, you disable the debugger to lock out users and save downloading time.
This confusion will certainly fade as AJAX developers find the best new tools and users grow accustomed to the results. Backbase’s collection of AJAX tools is outstanding, and the clean and friendly look and feel of Backbase apps will help bring about this new consciousness.
Ease of development (30.0%)
Overall Score (100%)
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