Aptana PHP Development Environment Released


You may have used Aptana's IDE for Ajax development. The IDE is a very good one and it just got better for us PHP developers. Aptana has announced the release of a PHP plugin for their IDE.

Below is an excerpt from the announcement.

PHP development and deployment just got way easier. Today, we're pleased to announce the 1.0 availability of the Aptana PHP development environment. It's got all the things you'd expect from a PHP IDE, plus all the Ajax tooling and other power tools from Aptana Studio. Combine that with the integrated PHP app hosting, staging and management features in Aptana Cloud and you've got an end-to-end PHP development and deployment environment with unprecedented ease of use.

You can read the full post here.

It's always good to see one of my favorite languages get more support in tools that many of us already use. Thanks Aptana, you gave me something to play with this weekend.

Ext GWT 1.2 Released

Ext GWT, a library for integrating Ext JS with Google Web Toolkit, has released version 1.2. New features include Drag and Drop (with support for Grids, Trees, and Lists), Form Data Binding, and File Upload.

It can be downloaded here.

Visual WebGui 6.2.2 SDK Released

The 6.2.2 release provides compatibility to MS Silverlight RC0/RTW, and now supports development & deployment of web applications with the latest Silverlight technology. As stated before, Microsoft has released Silverlight 2 with weak backwards compatibility to previous Silverlight versions, which resulted in some presentation issues with the Silverlight layer that are now solved.

The new release also includes the Visual WebGui WinForms-like designer allowing simple and cost-effective Web development, and the new ASP.NET Control wrapper wizard introduced earlier this month.

Version 6.2.2 provides further stabilization to 6.2 which brought new standards in developer experience. for more information please read the official announcement.

The new Visual WebGui SDK is now available for download.

Full Silverlight compatibility with the upcoming VWG 6.2.2


As announced before on Visual WebGui.com, the 6.2.2 release which is expected to be released later this week will provide compatibility to MS Silverlight RC0/RTW.

As you probably know, Microsoft recently released a new version of Silverlight which provides almost no compatibility backwards to older Silverlight versions. This means that all the released VWG Silverlight applications will not work with this new MS Silverlight version.

Furthermore, Microsoft triggered an automatic update mechanism inside Internet Explorer to have the Silverlight ActiveX update without asking. As a result, all computers with MS Silverlight client installed on it have the new version, unless the user manually removed it.

Since Microsoft released this incompatible version, our Silverlight development team has been working very hard on modifying Visual WebGui to get in line with those changes and support the new MS version once again. We were also promised by Microsoft director in Silverlight group that this was the last back compatibility breaking.

Learn more about developing Silverlight Applications with Visual WebGui

The new Visual Studio integration demonstrated on Webcast

On Nov 24 at 9am PT, Visual WebGui will be presenting another Webcast as part of the MSDN Webcast series:
Integrating Visual WebGui into Visual Studio Simplifies Development and Saves Time and Money

In this webcast, we will demonstrate the new integration, usability & compatibility features introduced with version 6.2.

Attend this webcast to learn how the Visual WebGui platform increases productivity when developing AJAX DHTML and Microsoft Silverlight applications, saving time and money. And learn about Visual WebGui's complete integration into the Microsoft Visual Studio development system, a consolidated installation process, and the opportunity to use Microsoft Visual Studio Express Editions for software evaluation and trials.

Register online

Visual WebGui 6.2.1 SDK released

I would like to share with you the release announcement of Visual WebGui 6.2.1 SDK made last week by Gizmox.
The Visual Webgui SDK now incorporates both the DHTML and the Silverlight and enables to work with both .NET 2.0 and 3.5 on the same machine. In addition, the new release includes the new wrapper feature announced earlier.

Version 6.2 presented some important enhancements mainly to the developer experience as it introduced a complete integration into Visual Studio, a consolidated installation process and compatibility with Visual Studio Express edition and DharpDevelop.

Here is a more detailed about this version description:

New feature Summary
ASP.NET Control Wrapper wizard Asp.Net Wrapper wizard added to Visual WebGui infrastructure.
This wizard enhances Visual WebGui abilities and allows you to use any ASP.NET thirdparty control that you have and add it to you Visual WebGui application as an out ofthe box control. Making Visual WebGui applications even richer than before.

Issue Summary
VWG-2721 Tabbing between controls bug solved
VWG-3097 Problems with Flow Layout Panel bug solved
VWG-3140 Integration package and source control problems solved
VWG-3189 Installation prerequisites warnings & errors issues fixed
VWG-3143 DateTimePicker in Time Format with ShowUpDown set to true AM/PM problem fixed
VWG-2363 TextBoxValidation IntegerMaskValidator fixed and dosent allows non-numeric characters
VWG-3139 Now you can install 2.0 and 3.5 at the same time
VWG-3178 Unnecessary padding was removed from bottom RibbonBarGroup
VWG-3130 EnterKeydown event Problem was fixed and is now fired
VWG-2460 TreeView events issues solved
VWG-3077 DataGridView border fixed
VWG-2699 Anchor in HtmlBox fix
VWG-3078 Session state serialization under IIS fixed
VWG-3076 Charting in catalog fixed
VWG-3033 Theme registration in VS2005 solved
VWG-3061 Problem with controls events in FlowLayoutPanel solved

The Visual WebGui framework is available as a free download here

Wrap any ASP.NET control with Visual WebGui

Visual WebGui is about to release an ASP.NET Control Wrapper which will be included in the upcoming SDK release.

The ASP.NET Control Wrapper enables the adaptation of any ASP.NET component to a VWG control, whether bought from a third party such as Infragistics, Telerik, DevExpress, etc, or created independently. This will surely increase the richness of your control library by utilizing any available ASP.NET control.

The new wrapping feature is not only useful but also simple to use. In a few quick steps the desired control is "wrapped" and ready to use in a VWG project by dragging & dropping it.

The VWG development team is working extremely hard these days in order to make it into the next Visual WebGui release which is expected in the next few days.
Stay tuned for more detailes as it is released on www.VisualWebGui.com.

The 'Empty Client' AJAX Approach

The new 'empty client' approach lead by Visual WebGui to AJAX is set to offer fundamental, infrastructure solutions to the three major setbacks of AJAX listed bellow. This approach shifts all processing, including UI logic to server, much like the old Main Frame paradigm did, and leaves the web client empty.

The first setback of traditional AJAX is the complexity in creating AJAX application for enterprise's scenarios which is time consuming and therefore brings doubtful ROI. The second setback is that there is a lack of AJAX technologies that can support high level data centric enterprise applications. The last but not least in importance, is security concerns as AJAX is known to raise real security concerns which enterprise applications with sensitive data cannot tolerate.

If the client is empty, everything is processed on the server. This concept enables highly productive, desktop development methodologies for web development as well as allowing complex applications running responsively on the network. Finally, since there is no data, no logic and no open services on the client, this approach presents a highly secured alternative to conventional client-side AJAX.

You can read more about the design time and runtime advantages of the 'empty client' AJAX on VisualWebGui.com

Develop Web with WinForms

Visual WebGui is an innovative framework for developing data intensive web applications based on its revolutionary 'empty client' platform.

The VWG framework empowers developers to build & deploy AJAX / Silverlight applications atop its platform using WinForms desktop methodologies and still allowing full flexibility, scalability, performance, security or complexity.

While conventional AJAX requires developers to program using a number of different client-side and server-side languages in multi level architecture, the 'empty client' platform enables the use of a single model with one layer. This allows developers to focus on what they want to achieve rather than on how to do so.

The reason is because the 'empty client' approach could supply well known desktop methodologies for web development. This leads to a much simpler design patterns and lets developers design highly interactive, data rich applications with basically the same productivity of designing desktop applications by dragging and dropping controls.

In addition, it is possible to provide pre-defined application blocks with the 'empty client' approach as most of the processing is done on the server. This drives up even more the efficiency and productivity of developing AJAX and enables the customization and extension of .NET components.

Book Review: ZK Developer's Guide

Title: ZK Developer's Guide
Publisher: Packt Publishing
Authors: Markus Stauble and Hans-Jurgen Schumacher
Publish Date: March, 2008

Some Background

The ZK framework, created by Tom Yeh, started out life as a project on Sourceforge, where it quickly became a popular open-source project (nominated for the 2006 Sourceforge.net Community Choice Award). It has since moved to its own site (but continues to distribute files through Sourceforge), where it vies for share with other AJAX frameworks in the RIA market. The project is officially sponsored by the Potix Corporation, which provides consulting services for ZK. It is distributed under both GNU and commercial licenses.

ZK is a thin-client Java- and XML-based component framework which uses JavaScript underneath the covers to communicate between the (browser-based) client and server.

  • ZK uses its own extension of Mozilla's XUL library, ZUML, to describe the page components, which are then rendered into the appropriate HTML and JavaScript by the ZK engine. ZK can also use XHTML-based components.
  • Scripting is handled using Java and EL expressions.
  • Communication between the client and server is based on an event model: user interaction is propagated (via AJAX) back to the server, which may modify the client DOM in response to the event, passing back those modifications (via AJAX) to the framework's client-side JavaScript, which handles them. The server keeps its own hierarchy of ZK components which correspond to the browser's DOM.

There is a resemblance here to other "JavaScript-less" AJAX frameworks, notably GWT and the JSF-based ICEFaces.

The Book

Like many of Packt's books, the format is focused on being lightweight and easy to read. There are 7 chapters and 159 pages, but the pages are small and have plenty of whitespace (presumably for adding notes). Add to that an abundance of illustrations and screenshots, and you get the idea: it can easily be consumed in a day or two.

The emphasis of the book is on learning the framwork, not really serving as a reference (the authors refer you to the online documentation for that), so the book generally assumes the form of a "walk-through" of the framework with an emphasis on the "Online Media Library" example application (chapters 2-4). A general breakdown of the book is as follows:

  • Chapter 1, Getting Started With ZK, is an introduction to the framework with a definition of terms, description of underlying technologies, the obligatory "Hello World" in ZK, as well as an in-depth treatment of how the framework functions (events, phases, component creation).
  • Chapter 2, Online Media Library, is a quick overview of the example application, how to set up the project in Eclipse (as a Maven project), and develop the basic application pages using ZUML. It does not discuss ZK-Bench (the subject of Ch. 7) presumably to focus on the technology itself, rather than the tools.
  • Chapter 3, Extending the Online Media Library, goes more into the full capability of the framework, turning the example application into a full MVC (Model-View-Controller)-based application and introducing "Live Data" (AJAX) in order to make the application more desktop-like.
  • Chapter 4, Is It on the Desktop or the Web?, continues where Ch. 3 left off, adding Drag-and-Drop capability to the application, embedding the rich text editor FCKEditor into ZK, and covering internationalization.
  • Chapter 5, Integration with Other Frameworks, covers integrating the ZK framework with other popular frameworks and technologies, including Spring, Hibernate, Jasper Reports, mobile phones (ZK mobile), and even JSF (ZK's JSF components).
  • Chapter 6, Creating Custom Components, shows you how to create custom ZK components for your application.
  • Chapter 7, Development Tools for the ZK Framework, covers how to install and use the Eclipse-based ZK-Bench development environment.

The Good

ZK Developer's Guide strikes a good balance between approachability and depth, and as such is a good introduction to the framework for developers not wishing to be overwhelmed by details. It is a simple and quick read with an emphasis on practical development that will be especially useful to developers without any previous RIA or AJAX development experience. The provided Online Media Library example is simple enough for illustrative purposes with enough functionality to demonstrate the framework's functionality.

The Bad

On the downside, the book lacks coverage of many of the built-in widgets that come with the ZK framework (audio controls, slider, progress meter, charts, etc.); granted, its stated intention is not to serve as a reference, but it seems a strange omission for a book about an AJAX framework. Much of the discussion around integrating with other frameworks in Ch. 5 also seems a bit thin (outside of Spring).


ZK Developer's Guide is a good book for those wishing to get up and running with the ZK framework quickly. Though it does not include much detail on the framework's built-in widgets, this can easily be supplemented by ZK's own online documentation.

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