Friday, September 10, 2010

Book Review: Laszlo In Action

I just finished Laszlo In Action, ISBN 9781932394832.  As a moderately experience JavaScript web developer, I read it because I wanted to experience the world before modern JavaScript libraries such as YUI, Prototype, and jQuery existed.  This tool is a contemporary of Flex (it's flash based) with the additional capability to compile to native JavaScript (what the book properly calls DHTML, but has more recently been called AJAX and is being called HTML5 these days even though there are no HTML5 tags or functions being used). 

Having already read a Adobe's primer to Flex (a 200+ page PDF) I can say that Flex and Laszlo have a lot in common.  The tooling for Flex seems a little more mature, but given the choice I'd pick Laszlo simply for the fact that it isn't compelled to lock users into a propritary platform - it already cross-compiles over to Javascript/Html and it will likely support more and more of what HTML5 provides as it becomes more popular.  In fact, I would bet that it'll eventually compile down to HTML5 Canvas.  Interestingly enough, the area you draw on is already called <canvas>! 

The book makes a great introduction to the language, but is a little wordy in areas for those of us with web development experience.  Programmers new to writing in languages that require asymmetric server calls running XQuery, the semantics of HTML and XML, and dealing with cookies, all of which this book teaches.

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