HTML 5: Is this how Flex 4 will be made?

Ajaxian has started this monthly Ajax roundup. It’s a pretty good read, even if you’re not an Ajax developer. I’m a Flexer, so most of the news items aren’t relevant to my daily life, but I think it’s important to keep tabs on tech in general.

Kevin Yank, over at SitePoint, has an interesting post on the HTML 5 working group. HTML 5!? You ask/say in disbelief. Yeah, I was surprised to see it too. With Ajax and browser apps becoming more and more prevalent, this has got to be the toughest “release” of HTML to date. As Kevin notes, anyone can join the working group so if HTML gets you buzzing, head on over and join the HTML working group.

The part that I found most interesting in the post was the section entitled “HTML 5 Issues on the Table”. It talks about various different things that make me glad I don’t spend most of my days in HTML anymore. However, when I came across the “Extending HTML Semantics” item, I got a bit sad for being a straight Flex developer. Flex, while being incredibly powerful and easy to use, does have some major drawbacks: not easily searched and not being able to contribute to the semantic web.

Alas though, Flex 3+ will be open-sourced. Now we, who care about semantics and crazy items like that, will be able to help make them a reality in future Flex releases. Right? I don’t know, but I’m hoping so.

Will we have working groups for Flex 3.x and Flex 4? Will these working groups be open to the public? Or will they be “invite only”? Will we have committees on topics like Logging, Unit Testing, Charting, Semantics, Styles, Component Library, etc? Or will there just be two committees: ActionScript and MXML. I don’t know. I sure hope we find out soon though.

I think that’s why the Open-Source announcement hasn’t whet my appetite yet. Yeah, an open Bug Base is nice…but I need a little more meat before I can take a bite.

SmartClient: An impressive Ajax solution

The folks at Isomorphic Software have this Ajax product known as SmartClient ( One team inside eBay uses the product for internal projects, and so invited them down to demo for the rest of us. I was there and I have to say, the tool looks powerful. The company has been around for a while and if you look at their homepage, they’re client list is rather impressive.

There are two things I’d like to call out that were demonstrated.

  1. The OLAP CubeGrid: This nifty little tool let you quickly and easily view your OLAP data in a datagrid. Any toolset can do that, right? But then, SmartClient let’s you just drag and drop new elements into the datagrid to further enhance the views. I’ve been in corporate America for quite sometime and the number crunchers out there would go crazy for a tool like that.
  2. XML Schema-driven Form: I know Eclipse and other tools have had something like this for years, but not being a Java head, stuff like this still impresses me. The tool will take an XML schema and automatically bind it to a datagrid and create a corresponding form on the fly. The form will have the elements properly typed, show which are required and even populate drop downs. If you’re using XML extensively, that’s a pretty attractive feature.

As you can see by the sidebar of their site (if you clicked one of the example links), there’s tons of other stuff they do right out of the box. With over 210 Ajax frameworks to choose from, it’s probably pretty hard to figure out which one you want to use. If you’re investigating/using Ajax, give SmartClient a look.