Laszlo builds flashy Web apps
LPS 1.0 dazzles with Flash clients, but could use stronger tools on the back end
Upon receiving a client request, Laszlo’s compiler combines the LZX tags, scripts, media files, and Flash resources into executable bytecode, compresses it, and streams the Flash executable.
The initial client-side request pulls the fat-client application from the Laszlo server. The client can then make fresh calls for new data and update the interface accordingly.
The server can transcode a variety of static media types for real-time delivery, including JPEG, GIF, PNG, MP3 audio, and TrueType fonts. But it cannot yet handle PDFs or video content such as QuickTime or Windows AVI files.
LPS would also benefit from a richer set of tools for connecting the server to databases, files, and Web services on the back end.
The solution’s data-binding mechanisms are limited to XML, lacking support for JDBC and direct JMS integration, for example. Additional scripting and code maintenance, such as through JSP, is required.
LPS could also provide more help to system managers charged with maintaining and tuning production applications. Run-time reporting facilities are lackluster, offering little more than static log dumps, and server monitoring and diagnostic tools are absent.
I found it easy to compile and deploy my smaller sample applications, whereas managing and maintaining larger LZX applications proved taxing.
Laszlo’s dependence upon the availability of the free, third-party, nonstandardized Flash client, rather than a Laszlo-supported rendering engine, may also be of concern to the wary IT manager.
Dramatic changes in Flash or Macromedia’s revenue model could quickly alter the true cost and feasibility of Laszlo’s solution. The reliance on Flash should spur IT execs to consider carefully before committing to LPS for all but the lightest of applications.
To this reviewer, LPS 1.0 felt sluggish and performed like a first attempt, ultimately falling short of products from RIA trailblazers such as Altio.
Although LPS creates a nice programmatic alternative to Flash development and extensibility, it lacks the development, integration, and management capabilities required for heavyweight deployment. With Version 1.0, Laszlo has left itself room to grow.