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
Curl competes in the RIA category with Adobe Flash and Flex, Microsoft Silverlight, OpenLaszlo, and various AJAX technologies. Like some of these, it can be used for desktop applications as well as Web applications. It can also coexist with most if not all of these, thanks to its new interoperability features.
Version 6 boasts several improvements to the Curl controls; the biggest is a new library of skinnable controls and a style designer for them. Between the style designer, the controls themselves, and the Curl Visual Layout Editor, you can create sophisticated user interfaces with customizable looks quite easily.
The graphics improvements in Curl 6 provide easier access to high-quality rendering, including antialiasing, better handling of curves, the ability to render rotated images, and partial transparency (Alpha blending). On the Windows platform, this was accomplished by the use of GDI+ (Graphics Device Interface). High-quality rendering mode also works on the Mac, but not on Linux.
The new language and IDE features of Curl 6 are welcome, but I classify most of them as expected features that previously were missing: bookmarks in the documentation, conditional breakpoints, debug value display with a mouse hover, the addition of rounded rectangles to the 2-D drawing API, and so on.
All in all, Curl 6.0 continues to be an excellent RIA technology, but is only incrementally improved over the previous release. As I said last August, “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.”