OT: Choosing an RIA platform: Microsoft's XAML (WPF) or Adobe's MXML(Flex 2)

Discussion in 'ASP .Net' started by JDeats, Feb 21, 2008.

  1. JDeats

    JDeats Guest

    A little about my background: So I've been involved in web development
    for about eight years now, since the early todays when ASP 1.0 was hot
    technology and middle tier development meant compiling code in VB6
    COM .dlls. watched Microsoft really treat their loyal web developers
    very well over the years the evolution of ASP.NET has been fantastic.
    I know for some of you think information will be old hat already, but
    it's shocking how many people are still using plan ole- WebForms as a
    catch all technology for any web development.

    Now for my short exposé


    As we move forward it seems Internet based applications are destine to
    split. Presentation-driven web sites that exist for the purpose of
    advertising a product or service will eventually become unthinkable to
    be built using the same tools one would to create an on-line
    application (think: gmail, bootcamp and other "Web 2.0" applications
    today). Productivity enhancers always drive development tool
    technology forward and it's just not conducive to try and force one
    set of tools to do it all. The success of Adobe Flash over the years
    shows us this has already proven to be true. Yet we have programmers
    and designers out there using ASP.NET WebForms to build everything
    from article driven/blogging sites, Hollywood blockbuster movie promo
    sites and Intranet/Extranet corporate applications.

    But one shoe does not fit all and with better we could boost

    It seems what's most popular today is to rely on heavy client-side
    scripting to create stateful applications (AJAX) and technologies such
    as RoR (Ruby on Rails) push this concept forward as the future of web
    UI. Microsoft of course offers excellent AJAX tools as well. But AJAX
    isn't the answer long term, in fact I see it as a very short term
    solution. The problem with any AJAX implementation is that the stack
    of technology is still there under the hood and the stack of
    technology is clutter. It's taking up system resources and ultimately
    giving us more complexity than we need. With a good AJAX code library
    these applications may seem easy to built, but expanding upon these
    libraries becomes a daunting, somewhat expensive task. The most
    important thing is we have this stack of what in context, becomes
    legacy technology that we're having to appease to make AJAX
    applications possible.


    So where do we go beyond AJAX? Many companies have been working on
    this problem a long time. In 2005 I got very excited about a new
    markup language Microsoft had made available to private beta. This was
    before the Windows Presentation Foundation branding, back then it was
    simply called XAML and it was an awesome concept. Instead of building
    on HTML, give us a successor (or counterpart depending on your
    perspective) that caters to desktop application UI and then give us
    the same power visual design tools we have for WebForms.

    XAML was an awesome idea, but it didn't make its way out of beta until
    Microsoft Expression Designer was launched in April 2007 and it didn't
    make it's way until the hands of Visual Studio developers until
    November of 2007. It's very hard for me to understand how Microsoft
    could sit of a technology this important for so long. The answer I
    believe is that Microsoft feels confident in loyal developer base.
    They know corporations will be slow to transition away from them and
    so they feel it more important perhaps to get it right before release
    instead of putting it out there early. That all makes sense, but it
    doesn't account for competitors stepping in and building a better
    product to do the exact same thing.

    So while XAML was "cooking" in Microsoft's labs to give Microsoft
    developers a more robust design tool; Macrovision (Adobe) realized
    Flash designers were trying to build desktop like applications and
    needed a more robust set of tools for this purpose. So Adobe hired/
    stole a very important player from Microsoft, Mike Anders. If you
    don't know who Mike Anders is; Mike Anders is considered one of the
    fathers of ASP.NET. This guy was one of the big creative wheels at
    Microsoft leading them to build better tools for developers. Mike went
    to work for Adobe and he became the lead architect on what became
    Adobe's competitor to XAML, Flex 2.0

    So since I stay so busy writing code I took a long break from
    SmartClient/RIA tools. I was waiting for them to grow a bit before
    jumping on the bandwagon, but in January of 2008 I began to research
    my options. I took a close look at VS.NET 2008 and it's new XAML form
    designer, I looked at Mozilla's XUL and lastly I looked at Adobe's
    Flex 2.0. Having tried to program ActionScript 2.0 using Flash 8 many
    moons ago I figured Flex would be my least favorite option, but what I
    found really blew me away.

    I'm not sure if it had anything to do with Mike Anders involvement or
    not (I suspect it had everything to do with his involvement) but what
    I found in Flex 2 is the most robust, well designed, scalable and
    adaptable RIA framework today. In it's structure and syntax it caters
    to C# and Java2 developers and it integrates seamlessly with .NET and
    Java 2 back end technology. I haven't been this excited about a new
    technology since I wrote my first ASP.NET application years ago, but
    Flex really has that much potential. I was worried about having to use
    Flash designer to create Flex apps and Adobe handled that as well (all
    Flex development can be done by hand in notepad with their free SDK
    for professional development a reasonably priced Eclipse IDE plug-in
    provides a visual forms development environment with intellisense on
    both the XML code and ActionScript 3 syntax) all of this reasonably
    priced and very easy to work with for C# programmers.

    With Linux and Mac OS gaining market share every year I think Flex 2
    is a great choice. I didn't create this thread to create a flame war
    or to try to push those already happy with XAML away from it. What I
    am hopping for is that those of you looking to move to XAML consider
    also looking into Flex 2, you'll find a very robust technology that
    shares nothing with Flash other than a run-time and scripting language
    and you'll find Adobe has really ramped up developer support for this

    JDeats, Feb 21, 2008
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