RIA platforms lend apps more Flash
Macromedia Flex and Laszlo Presentation Server bring new tricks to Internet application delivery
This development-tool need extends, too, to LPS' general server administration. Beyond basic monitoring reports, there were minimal tools for managing server-side caching optimization or client-side run-time performance controls. Flex offered no better. As RIA becomes more prevalent, these types of tools will be necessary for managing performance.
Making the Grade
Laszlo's wagon is currently hitched to Macromedia's profit model and the nonstandardized future direction of Flash, which brings up the issue of the long-term ROI and extensibility of products such as LPS. LPS still only compiles to the Flash 5 standard, so it is unable to directly support Flash MX assets or take advantage of enhancements in Version 7 clients.
Laszlo needs to take the abstraction afforded by its XML language and reduce its run-time dependency on Flash, as well as broaden its choices for cross-platform opportunity. I would like to see both vendors work toward solutions that allow apps to be completely decoupled from the presentation server.
These tools offer a good first step toward simplifying application delivery and improving end-user interaction, but given that the greatest benefit realized over competing RIA offerings is the ubiquity of the Flash browser, both may be best suited to direct-to-customer, rather than in-house, applications. Of the two, Flex is nearest to realizing reliable, stovepipe application integration possibilities.
When it comes to enterprise-grade app dev, Flex makes rich Internet applications attainable. For smaller, niche projects, Laszlo can fit the bill -- and the cost savings may just make it worth the added time or effort to get LPS working.