OpenLaszlo and Eclipse

Back in my February 2004 Developer Day slides, I promoted the idea of using Eclipse to create a XUL application builder, with direct-manipulation graphical layout construction and editing, project management wizards, etc.

Although a few people expressed interest and even did some hacking (the MozCreator project being the most conspicuous example, although not Eclipse-based), no one actually created an Eclipse project and built on its Graphical Editor Framework to realize a XUL app-builder.

The good news this week is Open Laszlo and IBM releasing the Eclipse IDE for Laszlo. LZX is cool, and similar in spirit, and in many ways in flesh, to XUL.

So the thought occurs: why not patch the Eclipse IDE for Laszlo to support XUL as an alternative target language, and Firefox (or any new-style XUL app, soon enough unified via XULRunner) as the target runtime? Any takers?


9 Replies to “OpenLaszlo and Eclipse”

  1. That would be great (unfortunately, way beyond my level; I’m hoping that having XUL support in Eclipse would be enough for me to get started using XUL for real…)
    While I think this needs to be done, and hope some smart person out there does it, what I really would like to see is work on getting the two languages (Laszlo and XUL) merged and standardized (as I wrote about just yesterday. Then each could target their own runtime (Flash or XULRunner/Firefox/etc.)

  2. Stephen: we are already talking to Laszlo folks, and we’ll see what can be done quickly. It may not pay to converge and standardize, instead of harmonize. Laszlo would love to target native support in Firefox, of course, but that’s another Gecko extension to be written. If LZX evolves to use CSS and the full DOM and ECMA-262 Edition 3, then it’s a better match to a future Gecko (+ extension) target.
    Will: CPL.

  3. Hey, I’m not experienced in this realm, nor smart enough to evaluate the differences between the languages. All I know is, as a developer I’m more likely to use an XML UI language for a rich client if there’s a single language with good support.
    I’m glad to hear discussions are going on, and I’m sure you guys will figure out the best path.

  4. After viewing the demo, I’m not terribly impressed. It’s not a drag-and-drop GUI editor, it’s just a beefed up XML editor with a preview window. With some work, I could probably make my live XUL editor into a reasonable competitor.

  5. Ted: cool, I hadn’t seen your work till now. Ever since ViXEn, we’ve wanted a XUL-based XUL IDE, for portability, simplicity, and high-fidelity.
    The Eclipse platform is attractive is you’re into Java (OpenLaszlo is written in Java), and it has a big community and a strong backer, but if the shortest path to a XUL IDE is to build on top of the Mozilla platform, let’s go!

  6. You… Funny, you, Brendan!
    What XUL “as a platform” needs first and foremost is not a fancy-shmancy RAD IDE. First and foremost it needs something like what you yourself linked to : a no-nonsense, coherent, thorough and up to date developer documentation. And don’t you shake any of the XULPlanet-style stuff at me, you ought to know that that’s not good enough. When you have THAT – you can go back to thinking about IDEs.
    Maybe what MoFo should have done with the money they had donated to them is hire a documentation writer instead of wasting it on NYT ads!

  7. Why don’t you identify yourself and stand behind your comments? Your argument boils down to “do things serially”, which is silly. The Mozilla project is big enough to do several things at once.
    BTW, the NYT ad was what those donors wanted, and it would be unethical and probably illegal to use their donations entirely for something else. It’s not my idea of the best use of that money, but it’s *not my money* to direct in the first place.
    We’re looking at hiring writers and people who can write, edit, *and* coordinate other writers, including all the volunteers. You know, like Neal et al. whose work at xulplanet you factlessly dismiss.
    Care to help instead of griping anonymously? Or do both at the same time — that’s ok with me ;-).

  8. I’m working on resurrecting an old IDE for XUL written in Mozilla about two years ago. It has an explorer type project window and a drag drop form editor with a toolbox and properties window (I demo’ed it to Robert Ginda in 2002). I want to get the old version working again before starting a complete rewrite. My computer just died yesterday so this may take a while. Given the renewed interest in Firefox I think it is worth another try. Although I am still pessimistic about getting the bugs and ommissions which stopped the original project fixed.
    They are still there and the same reasons for not fixing them are still being supplied.

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