I am pleased to announce the official release of OpenLaszlo 3.0, previously known as Laszlo Presentation Server. The new name is in honor of Laszlo’s commitment to its open source platform. Since the initial release, which allowed folks to download the source in a zip file, you can now find…

source code access (in subversion)
– open bug tracking
– developer wiki
– active developer mailing lists

Kudos to Oliver, Tucker, Henry, the rest of the Laszlo team, and members of the community for making it happen!

You can downlaod the new release and enjoy the awesome new features. Here are my favorites:

* SOLO (or Standalone Open Laszlo Output) deployment mode that creates a standalone file that can be used with any web server, including those that don?t allow an installation of a J2EE servlet. No Laszlo server required.

* Unicode support for source files and datasets. The framework text components also support Unicode editing.

* A drawing API that implements a subset of the WHAT-WG graphics API, enabling JavaScript code to create graphics on the client, on the fly.

* Dynamic libraries that can be used to significantly reduce the initial download size of an OpenLaszlo application.

* Optimizations for Flash Player version 6, with support on over 96% of consumer browsers, and optimizations and support for the Flash Player version 7 for even faster performance under managed deployment. Both size and speed improvements — woo hoo!

* Client text optimizations, allowing the use of embedded fonts for total visual control, or HTML-style client fonts for smaller application size and faster text editing.

* Better HTML integration through a resizable canvas allowing OpenLaszlo applications to be sized proportionally to the enclosing HTML page. This is really nice and well integrated — you can specify constraints like width=”${canvas.width-20}”.

* Better JavaScript integration with functions in OpenLaszlo applications making calls to JavaScript in the surrounding HTML page.

* Better navigation capabilities as OpenLaszlo applications can intercept the browser ?back? button and use it to move around among program states. Simple API to control history state — see LzHistory for details.

* Laszlo Systems is available to help developers who are using OpenLaszlo via hands-on training courses, technical support, webinars, and consulting to help developers over the periodic hurdles that come up when using a new platform. Laszlo trainings are awesome — you should sign up.

If you haven’t already, download OpenLaszlo 3.0!

A few weeks ago, EarthLink announced its new Enchanced Webmail. It’s exciting to see screen shots in public and hear more positive feedback as the news hits less technical press.

Despite some of the headlines , the only Flash used in this project is the Flash Player and SWF file format. It ‘s Laszlo all the way. Laszlo Mail is the first commercial application that we’re building on top of Open Laszlo, the open source platform.

It has been great working with the EarthLink team on this project. It is good to see that this huge company still has awesome engineers, sensible product managers, and executives who will sponsor innovation to deliver great applications to their customers.

The Laszlo tech has really made this application practical. Immersed in the code, I sometimes feel like I’ve been working on it forever. Taking a step back, I am amazed at the speed of development. As it turns out, e-mail has evolved to have a fairly large minimum feature set and there are a lot of details to get right. In the continuum of web applications from a single form to multiple transactions and dynamic data usually associated with an RIA, this app is on the far end of the spectrum. While the whole app is complex, it can still be divided into modular code for effective team development.

Most of my experience developing applications has been with UI frameworks, written in C++. In my experience these traditional methodologies create a process which is fairly rigid in the latter stages of development. Changes are possible, but expensive. The good teams carefully schedule time for specific design changes which are always necessary, but often can only be seen once the features are all working together. I can only imagine the challenges of such changes in the fragile environment offered by DHTML. I have found working on Laszlo applications to be a refreshing change. I’m used to having to so “no” all the time starting about half way through the development process. With Laszlo, I have been able to say “yes” more often. Relative late in the development cycle, we were able to experiment with UI changes that I never would had the time-luxury to consider in a desktop app. Development cycles have only gotten shorter with the move to web applications, with the Laszlo platform I find we can make good use of that time.

It’s a lot of fun to work in LZX, the Laszlo XML-based language. Every development environment has its challenges, but I continue to enjoy the flexibility of the Laszlo platform relative to traditional application development. I’ve been impressed at how quickly new engineers at Laszlo and the folks at EarthLink have come up to speed in this new language and new style of application development.