Is OpenLaszlo right for your project?

Even as a former employee of Laszlo Systems, deciding which Rich Internet Application framework to use for the new venture was harder than I thought it would be. Clint and I really wanted to use OpenLaszlo, but AJAX was making headlines. Furthermore, AJAX/DHTML applications were being successfully deployed all over the place. Even though it’s challenging to question using a technology that you’ve invested 2 years of your career on, when starting a new company, you better do it or risk paying for that decision later.

Some pros of OpenLaszlo include:

  • Clint and I know LZX, Laszlo’s markup language, really well (Clint was the lead developer on the ColorSmart Application for Behr Paints).
  • Since Macromedia tightly controls the Flash web browser, you can be sure that 99% of what you write will run in any browser that has flash 6 or higher installed. (At the time of this writing, Macromedia claims that flash 6 or higher is running in over 96% of web browsers out there)
  • At the moment, LZX is a lot more elegant, and fun to write when compared to AJAX. (though, there are several frameworks out there that are trying to change this)
  • LZX gives you constraints, delegates, animation, data binding/replication out of the box for free
  • No need to cobble together scraps of code from all over the place to build a framework…. it’s all there for you in one nice place
  • OpenLaszlo is open source, making deployment costs much lower. We thought we had enough experience with Laszlo that we could get by for a while without paying for support.

Some pros of AJAX include:

  • There are many examples of deployed AJAX applications out there. The developer community around DHTML/AJAX/whatever has been around a LONG time.
  • It’s not flash. Be it justified or not, developers are always wary of flash. I think this has something to do with the gratuitous flash animations that you occasionally see misplaced on corporate web sites. For our purposes, if we ever expected to sell our application, developers have to see this as something they could work with.
  • Javascript in the web browser is WAY faster than it is in flash. While this isn’t too much of an issue in Laszlo apps on fast hardware, slower hardware can have some issues in certain situations

(If you think I’m missing something critical in these lists, feel free to let me know and I’ll update it)

So what did we decide? We eventually concluded that utilizing our Laszlo skills would give us a competitive advantage, and decided that whatever project we choose to chase down (there were many) should be something that Laszlo is perfectly suited for, and would either be impossible or really hard to do in DHTML. We are really excited about the project we’ve started working on, and can’t wait to show it off soon!

Need help deciding if OpenLaszlo is right for your project? For a limited time, I’m available for one day consulting gigs. Email me at: