Product review: Curl 6.0 enrichens the rich Internet toolkit
Latest release of the RIA development framework is highlighted by easier customization, more sophisticated effects, AJAX interoperability, and a native-looking Mac port
One of a number of “middleweight” solutions in the RIA (rich Internet application) spectrum, Curl is a language, an IDE, and a runtime engine that goes beyond the capabilities of lighter-weight AJAX without incurring the heavier overhead of the Java or .Net runtime. A number of Curl characteristics make it especially suitable for enterprise use: excellent performance, the ability to handle intermittent connectivity, support for large data sets, and graceful presentation of complex interfaces.
Since my review of Curl 5.0 last August, Curl won InfoWorld’s Technology of the Year award in the RIA category, Curl 6.0 was released, and Curl released three open source projects: WSDK (Web Services Development Kit), CDK (Curl Data Kit), and CDU (Curl Development Utilities). Curl can do some impressive things with graphics for a RIA, as shown by this figure.
I applaud Curl’s open source initiatives, but I’ll concentrate here on reviewing the new features of Curl 6.0, which amount to a Macintosh port of the runtime, AJAX interoperability features, controls additions and improvements including easier customization, and graphics rendering improvements such as better antialiasing and smoother curves. The Curl language itself boasts some new features, as does the IDE. The latter include conditional breakpoints and the ability to show variable values as tooltips in the editor.
[ Read Martin Heller’s Curl 5.0 review from last August, and see a video demo of Curl 5.0. Read his overview of the RIA space. Read his review of Microsoft Silverlight 1.0 and 1.1. Read Peter Wayner’s inside look at open source AJAX toolkits Dojo, Ext, Google Web Toolkit, jQuery, MooTools, Prototype and Scriptaculous, and Yahoo User Interface, along with short video tours of each. ]
The Macintosh port of the Curl runtime engine is still in beta as I write this, but should be released in April. The key feature of the port is that it displays a native Mac look and feel. That took some work, which was facilitated by the improved rendering and the skinnable controls. The Curl IDE has not been ported to the Mac, however, and Mac fonts are different enough from Windows and Linux fonts that you may encounter some layout issues in Curl applets that you intend to be portable.