Easy-to-learn Curl 5.0 equips developers to create powerful RIAs
Curl up with a comfortable rich Internet application IDE
Easy does it
Curl's original design goals were to unify documents and applications; to provide markup, scripting, and object-oriented programming in one environment with high performance; to create interactive UIs with a minimum of code; to support rapid development; and to be a "gentle slope" language. By "gentle slope," Curl's designers mean that all APIs can be extended, simple tasks require only simple code, and the language needs only the minimum of boilerplate code.
In my experience, Curl meets most of these goals at the language level, and the visual layout editor picks up the slack in the area of rapid UI development.
Curl has an impressive set of features. Starting with portability, Curl applications run on Windows, Linux, and Mac OS X, although the Curl IDE currently runs only on Windows and Linux. There are different client RTEs for each platform, but the Curl source doesn't change from platform to platform, and is compiled just-in-time on the client. I'm not aware of any compatibility issues among platforms, but I haven't tested this firsthand.
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Curl ships with XML, SAX (Simple API for XML), and SOAP classes. Further, it has a free add-on, the Curl Web Services SDK, that provides WSDL, XML Document Object Model, and XPath functionality. This add-on can import WSDL and generate a Curl package that lets you call a Web service through Curl classes and methods without having to explicitly deal with SOAP requests and responses.
A less capable version of this, the Curl XML Document Model Library, was all that was publicly available for download at the time of this review. The prerelease WSDK 1.0.4 that I reviewed was provided by Curl support, and an updated build of this will be available for download in the fall.
The Curl IDE features dockable panes and a layout reminiscent of Visual Studio or Eclipse. Besides a code editor and debugger, the IDE has a VLE (Visual Layout Editor). All of the above are free.
The Pro IDE adds source-code control integration, performance profiling and coverage analysis tools, and the ability to create VLE extensions, that is, add custom controls to the VLE. Professional Server features include HTTPS support (SSL/TLS [Transport Layer Security] encryption), complex concurrency (for high performance), applets with privilege (to allow operations beyond the sandbox), pCurl encryption (which hides your source code and improves performance), single sign-on (which lets a Curl applet get credentials from a Web site), and integration with the Mercury Interactive QuickTest Professional tools.
Curl may well be the most interesting computer language that you don't already know. Given that you can use the personal tools free forever and deploy the results on the Internet for free, the only barrier to evaluating it would be finding the time, and you may be pleasantly surprised at how quickly you pick it up. If you get serious about Curl and need to evaluate the professional tools and runtime, you can download a free 60-day trial. Curl should certainly be an option to consider for your next RIA project.