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Cutting-edge Web UI design patterns with no HTML/CSS

This is a first tutorial of the new, cutting-edge Theme & Control designer offered as a preview in the upcoming version of the Visual WebGui RIA development & deployment platform.

The Theme & Control designer enables developers and designers to create or edit controls and to make custom themes in the simplest most efficient way. The Theme & Control designer consolidates all the resources that build up the control into one place and allows to visually manage, edit and custom the design of the UI using point & click and without having to write HTML/CSS code.

View the Basic usage of the new Visual WebGui Theme & Control designer tutorial and learn how to edit images that make up a standard button and quickly transform it to Mac styled buttom.

1 developer and only 1 month to develop a Telemedicine Web application

A new case was published on visualwebgui.com showcasing why TYCON chose Visual WebGui RIA Development Platform as the core platform for the Web UI in their.

Click to Read showcase...

Using Visual WebGui allowed TYCON to deliver the new Telemdicine Second Opinion solution faster than expected saving time and resources due to the easy and quick implementation process of the existing WinForms code. The original plan to convert the WinForms generated code to web was a 5 month/man effort. With Visual WebGui TYCON completed the job using only 1 developer for 1 month.

"With Visual WebGui we were able to build an agile and secure web user interface that meets the requirements of our customer in terms of functionality and time-to-market Interface" Ariel Schwindt CEO of Tycon S.A.

Read the full showcase: A Telemedicine Second Opinion application developed on Web with 1 developer in 1 month

Oracle Buys Sun

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Oracle announced today that it will buy Sun Microsystems for $7.4 billion, finally ending Sun's search for a suitor. Oracle, a heavy investor in Java technology even prior to its purchase of BEA Systems, was a natural choice after Sun's courtship with IBM failed. As the resident "Java guy" around here, I'd be remiss if I did not share some of my own perspective on the big news.

First, the things I see as being positive:

  • This is good for Java, at least the perception of Java in the marketplace. Fair or not, there are many people who equate business success with quality (just ask your friendly SharePoint administrator). A nose-diving Sun stock price did not do much for people's perception of the viability of Java as a platform going into the future. Oracle's stewardship should improve this dramatically.
  • Like IBM, Oracle has always done a much better job than Sun actually making money on Java. Of course one could speculate endlessly on the reasons why (one invariably hears the fuzzy term "marketing"), but the fact remains: Sun executives chased the buzzword of the day while Oracle executives made money. In what reminds me of Apple in the late 90's, this is not uncommon in "R&D-oriented" companies; they just don't seem to learn how to sell the technology very well.
  • Solaris. Long viewed as one of the best flavors of Unix (featuring DTrace and ZFS, to name a few cutting-edge technologies), Solaris is the other crown jewel that Oracle picked up in the merger. In the conference call following the announcement, Larry Ellison specifically named Solaris as one of the reasons for the move. Since both Oracle and Weblogic already run on Solaris, owning the OS itself opens up some possibilities for Oracle.
  • Having followed Oracle's acquisition of BEA, I was generally impressed by the fact that Oracle did not automatically favor its own product lines over BEA's. In fact, a lot of careful thought seemed to go into which technology Oracle would adopt going forward. I hope the same will be true for Sun.

And now the less positive:

  • Consolidation. Consolidation is usually a good thing for vendors (at least the winners), and not so much for customers. There is, of course, less choice and inevitably some "cool stuff" that you wanted to last forever winds up in the dustbin.
  • MySQL. The MySQL community is unlikely to be very happy about the merger, given its traditional positioning as a cheaper alternative the the dominant database vendor. Personally speaking (and I'm no expert on the database market), I think that MySQL occupies a different end of the market than Oracle does, one which the the database giant would be foolish to ignore. Oracle is likely to keep selling Oracle database to its "Fortune 500" customers while also selling MySQL support to lower-end customers running LAMP stacks. The good news is that MySQL will remain a light-weight database. The bad news is that "enterprise features" are likely to fall off the development roadmap.
  • Glassfish. Sun was doing some very interesting work with Glassfish, and it's hard to say what will happen to the project in the wake of the Oracle purchase. Will it simply get nuked in favor of Weblogic? Glassfish has not yet seen huge adoption in the marketplace, so it may not have the same argument in favor of it that MySQL does. There is a big question mark hanging around its neck now--which is a shame because Glassfish is the kind of light-weight JEE server that could really be a game-changer if marketed properly.
  • Hardware. Sun is still very much a hardware company (at least in terms of revenue); Oracle is not. It's hard to say what will become of some of Sun's high-end hardware business after the acquisition. Personally, I think that Oracle will try to sell it off to a more hardware-oriented company in order to mitigate the cost of the buy.

Of course, this is all just speculation, and it is fun to speculate at times like these. One thing, though, is for sure: in the face of a bad economic recession, the market for enterprise technology will continue to consolidate.

Sneak Peek video of Visual WebGui 6.4 with Theme & Control Designer

Visual WebGui released a short video as a sneak peek of the new version and its major new features - the Theme & Control Designers although a preview version of Visual WebGui Rich Internet Applications Platform version 6.4 will become available in a couple of weeks.

The new designers which will be available with the upcoming 6.4 Preview version enable simple and quick customization of controls and themes thus enabling developers/designers to create rich, branded, and engaging customer-facing UI's.

Click here to watch the Theme Customization with the new Designer.

ECMAScript 3.1 Final Draft Emerges

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Also known as ECMAScript 5th Edition, the new JavaScript standard has entered final draft stage. Among the goodies: a formal getter and setter syntax for object properties, language reflection features, support for the JSON data format, additional Array methods, and a strict mode that improves error checking.

Function.bind

Function.prototype.bind(self, args...). A bind function wraps a function in a closure, storing references to the context arguments from the surrounding scope. This is somewhat equivalent to the following:

Function.prototype.bind = function(context) {
  var fun = this;
  return function(){
    return fun.apply(context, arguments);
  };
};

Applications include partial application of arguments to a function and currying. Though you can custom-roll one today, a native bind function in 3.1 should outperform any equivalent user-defined function.

Array

The additional Array methods in ECMAScript 3.1 are identical to methods introduced in JavaScript 1.6-1.8, but were never present in any official ECMAScript specification. They are currently implemented in Firefox 3.x. Of course, having them in ECMAScript 3.1 means that now you will be able to actually use them (provided, of course, that all browsers implement the standard...). These methods are: indexOf, lastIndexOf, filter, forEach, every, map, some, reduce, and reduceRight. There's a good description of each method here.

ECMAScript 3.1, also known as JavaScript Harmony, is the less ambitious version of what was to be JavaScript 2/ECMAScript 4, a plan scuttled when some members of ECMA balked at the large additions to the language.

The new specification is available here.

Google Releases Eclipse Plugin

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Hot on the heels of the announcement that Java can now be used with the Google App Engine, the Google Plugin for Eclipse has been released, supporting both Google Web Toolkit and Google App Engine development.

GWT Features:

  • Recognition of inline JavaScript (JSNI): syntax highlighting, auto-indenting, Java Search and Refactoring integration
  • GWT compiler shortcuts and configuration UI
  • Wizards to create entry points, modules and HTML pages
  • Support for GWT JUnit tests

App Engine Features:

  • Easy deployment to App Engine
  • As-you-type validation ensures that your code is compatible with App Engine
  • Build projects and 'enhance' JDO classes automatically without the need for ANT

The user's manual for the plugin is here. The plugin works with both Eclipse 3.4 (update site) and 3.3 (update site).

Visual WebGui RIA Platform 6.4 Preview to be released soon

Gizmox announced that Visual WebGui RIA & Cloud Platform version 6.4 will be released as a preview version in the beginning of May.

Since 6.4 includes many major, all-new features Gizmox decided to release it as a free Express Studio Preview version first, allowing Visual WebGui developers & community the opportunity to try it as soon as possible and experience its remarkable potential and value.

In the meantime, 6.3.x which is now a stabilized version continues to be offered as a pre-release version. This will also give the devoted Visual WebGui developers community the opportunity to benefit from Visual WebGui's pre-release discount for a bit longer. Gizmox is offering a free upgrade to 6.4 for perpetual licenses and will reset the subscription period to start when the 6.4 version is stabilized and offered commercially.

For those who would like a taste of the next version Gizmox will soon release a free preview of 6.4. Visual WebGui 6.4 discovers a leap forward in Visual WebGui's evolution and it will literally change the way you develop and design Rich Internet Applications. The new version combines the ease of Visual WebGui drag-and-drop application development with graphically-engaging visual designers to build Web UI's. The 6.4 preview brings a new dimension of collaboration between development and UI design tasks enabling simple and productive customization and creation of rich, branded, creative customer-facing Web 2.0 like UI's. This is enabled by new Control & Theme Visual Designers that add up to the Form designer and integrate with existing design software such as Photoshop, Expression Blend, Flash CS, and more to enable the most efficient developer and designer collaboration when customizing and creating new themes and controls. Both Theme and Control Designers provide easy management of the entire project's resources and the integrative capability to edit those resources.

Visual WebGui 6.4 also introduces a new scalability server extension allowing multi-users usage scenarios. The Cluster Server also provides important redundancy to Visual WebGui web applications.

Stay tuned for more information, samples and downloads to be released this month on Visual WebGui News...

Dojo Toolkit 1.3 Released

The 1.3 version of the Dojo toolkit is finally out. The main focus of this release has been browser compatibility (particularly IE 8 and Chrome) and speed. According to Dojo-reported numbers on the TaskSpeed benchmark, Dojo is the fastest JavaScript toolkit on common DOM operations, at least twice as fast as other JavaScript toolkits. Of course, all the usual caveats about micro-benchmarking apply, but the speed increase is nevertheless quite impressive.

Simultaneous with the Dojo 1.3 release is the release of the PlugD, a library allows Dojo developers to mimic some of the popular aspects of jQuery (method chaining, as well as many similarly-named convenience methods).

The full release notes can be found here. You can download the new release here.

Animal Swap - A Fun Free Flash Game

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Not that long ago I mentioned that I have been working on a few fun Flash games. The first game that is finished is called Animal Swap and is a simple pattern matching puzzle game.

The game is very simple and hopefully addictive. If anybody is interested in coding a Flash game and wants to see the source code, just send me a note and I can send it to you.

You can play the game here

You can find more games including this one at my other site wastingtimegames.com.

I'd love to get your thoughts on this game, so feel free to leave a comment about it.

Canvas 3D - The future of the web?

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Today I ran across a cool 3D world terrain texture map demo. The demo is made using Canvas 2D with the 3D code written in JavaScript. The demo runs in Firefox 3, Safari 3 and Chrome. This got me thinking about the future of the web and if we will see a lot of 3D on the web.

Mozilla is working on a Canvas 3D plug-in to ship with a future version of Firefox what will be using a simplified version of OpenGL. The hope is that some cool apps will be made using this plug-in and that will force other browsers to use some form of Canvas 3D (and eventually adhere to standards). So, if some very cool on-line game or useful charting application is made in 3D it is possible that we will be coming up with some interesting 3D user interfaces using Canvas 3D in the future (hopefully in the near future).

This brings up the question of what would you use 3D on the web to do? Do you think it would be useful or just fun? The answers to these questions could shape the future of the web.

You can see the demo here.

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