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Have You Looked Yet at OpenLaszlo?

OpenLaszlo applications will run on all leading Web browsers and on all leading desktop operating systems

What company, well-known for "pushing the frontier of desktop-like user experience," has pioneered an open source platform that allows developers to combine the rich user interface capabilities of desktop client software with the universally accessible, no-download features of web-delivered applications? If you answered Laszlo Systems, then you probably already know that OpenLaszlo applications will run on all leading Web browsers and on all leading desktop operating systems.

OpenLaszlo is offered as a free download to developers and while Laszlo Systems is the original developer, and primary corporate sponsor, a living community of over 75,000 developers has sprung up around the platform. Interest is so strong now that Laszlo has even developed a conference track all of its own at next month's AJAXWorld Conference & Expo 2007 West in Santa Clara, CA.

At AJAXWorld, Web developers, Web designers, senior architects, project managers,technology evangelists, user interface architects, consultants, CTOs – indeed, anyone looking to stay in front of the latest Web technology – will therefore be able to meet and to learn from the greatest OpenLaszlo developers and practitioners in the world, including for example Laszlo's own Sarah Allen, now Director of Application Development at Laszlo Systems but well known for having been named one of the “Top 25 Women of the Web” in 1998, when she was closely involved with the development of Macromedia Shockwave and Flash video during her eight year tenure at Macromedia. 

Allen will be talking at AJAXWorld about the Laszlo Webtop, an innovation which typifies the Laszlo approach. Not content with having ushered into the world a platform consisting of the LZX programming language and the OpenLaszlo Server, the San Mateo-based pioneers at Laszlo created a best-of-breed commercially licensed software product well suited for internal or consumer-facing corporate deployments, varying from financial dashboards to consumer communications consoles to enriched enterprise portals. Licensed as a commercial application, the Laszlo Webtop allows multiple OpenLaszlo apps to be integrated into a unified browser-delivered desktop, or ‘webtop.’

Another great Laszlo Systems asset is Bret Simister, who was the interface architect for [email protected]'s interactive TV service before joining Laszlo as chief interface architect. Simister too will be on hand at AJAXWorld, and is giving a presentation on "The Cinematic User Experience: Directing the Action in Interaction Design."

But no Laszlo Track would be complete at AJAXWorld without the presence and passion of the driving force behind the company, founder and CTO David Temkin (picture below).

In Santa Clara, as he did earlier the year at AJAXWorld Conference  Expo 2007 East in New York, Temkin will be providing the overview that developers and IT managers alike always relish, in a keynote-style session on September 25 that will deal with AJAX, RIA, Web 2.0, Open Source and of course OpenLaszlo, and the entire Laszlo platform.

Temkin has always been careful to underline how one important thing about OpenLaszlo is that it doesn't lock you into the Flash player, even though it takes advantage of Flash as a standard ubiquitous runtime. Laszlo is abstract from the Flash player.

One of the questions that Temkin often has to field is whether Laszlo Webtop uses AJAX, and here is what he says about that:

"Yes. Although 'Ajax' means different things to different people, it’s generally understood that it relates to the advanced use of JavaScript and XML to provide browser-based applications that resemble desktop applications. Webtop is built on OpenLaszlo, which is an advanced Ajax development platform. OpenLaszlo uses Ajax techniques, along with other elements, to support the creation of rich Internet applications. Furthermore, OpenLaszlo will soon support DHTML and, once certified, we plan to deliver a version of Laszlo Webtop that works with either Flash or Ajax."

Web applications developed with Laszlo technology reached a record high recently, serving 40 million people monthly in the U.S. alone during the first half 2007. The company also announced just last month that its customer base, now in the hundreds, continued to grow at a strong pace, while its global community of developers increased to over 75,000 members.

More than a dozen of the Fortune 100 enterprises and many other leading corporations have recently turned to Laszlo to empower their online users with richer, more fluid web experiences. Examples include:

  • Monster.com (www.monster.com), the most widely used career management site on the web, paired its advanced media developer team with Laszlo's professional services department, Laszlo Studios, to completely re-invent its popular job search application using Laszlos open source software, OpenLaszlo. Users can now intuitively narrow their job search in a matter of seconds to find, filter and examine listings.
  • Walmart.com (www.walmart.com) uses OpenLaszlo on its home page to create a seamless display for its latest products and promotions. The application runs in any standard browser and automatically scrolls through images upon entrance to the site, dynamically creating the effect of an in-page advertisement segment.
  • H&R Block (www.hrblock.com) commissioned Laszlo Studios to design a new home page in time for the opening of the 2007 tax returns season. The result is fluid interface navigation that easily guides users through H&R Blocks various offerings. Building on that success, the H&R Block development team later used Laszlo technology to create www.tango.com - an easy-to-use tax preparation site that launched in February.

A wide variety of other companies and institutions, ranging from small to large and in multiple industries, also chose to improve their sites with Laszlos technology during the first half of 2007. They include T Rowe Price, Barclays Global, Renaissance Learning, United States Air Force, Coghead, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, among others. International sites currently span over 20 countries and 5 continents, exemplified by IBMs What Makes You Special campaign, which has been translated into a dozen languages.

Since our founding in 2000, weve built our business knowing that creative, intuitive user interfaces are essential to the popular appeal of web-based applications. The dramatic adoption of Laszlos software in recent months, along with growing interest in products such as Apples iPhone and Google Maps, indicates that the market has come to the same conclusion, said Steve Ciesinski, President and CEO, Laszlo Systems.

In addition to offering services and support for the OpenLaszlo platform, Laszlo has built its own commercial products using OpenLaszlo, including a sophisticated Webmail, Laszlo Mail, and a recently launched rich Internet desktop in a browser, Laszlo Webtop. Already licensed by some of the nations top corporations, Laszlo Webtop is being used to deliver integrated suites of Laszlo-based RIAs. More details around product enhancements and public implementations will be released in the early fall.

Earlier this year, Gartner, Inc. named Laszlo to its Cool Vendors in Application Development, 2007 list. One of the authors of the Gartner report, Ray Valdes, Research Director, commented:

"As back-end systems mature, the focus of competition in applications and services moves to the front-end user experience. Its becoming clear that innovative experience design has the potential for sustainable competitive advantage - even for late entrants in mature product categories. RIA technologies, when properly exploited, can deliver significant business value."

OpenLaszlo can be downloaded for free today at www.openlaszlo.org.

More Stories By Jeremy Geelan

Jeremy Geelan is Chairman & CEO of the 21st Century Internet Group, Inc. and an Executive Academy Member of the International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences. Formerly he was President & COO at Cloud Expo, Inc. and Conference Chair of the worldwide Cloud Expo series. He appears regularly at conferences and trade shows, speaking to technology audiences across six continents. You can follow him on twitter: @jg21.

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