Open Laszlo

I have to admit that I carry big shield of skepticism when I circulate exhibit halls. Luckily a fellow attendee tipped me off to OpenLaszlo, an extremely spiffy system for server-side, declarative generation of Flash content. What this means for somebody like me – someone who, despite a lot of background in visual design, would really prefer to work directly with code – is that very sweet Flash-based interfaces can be constructed via XML. Their XML dialect, LZX, impressed me with its elegance and (for XML) relative lack of verbosity. The generation code is Java, which you can either run live on your server or run offline to generate standalone .swf files. They offer a nifty playground/demo for you to check it out.

They’re also looking at targeting different front-ends, including DHTML. Obviously that’s a big project, but even if it’s just a subset of functionality that could be very nice. There’s nothing wrong with Flash if there’s a fallback that doesn’t require extra developer effort.

Usually when a client wants a whizzy Flash interface I try to talk them out of it for accessibility and maintenance reasons. But I’ll be keeping Laszlo in my back pocket just in case one really insists.