November 05, 2011

Flex Missioner talks ExtJS

The Plot Thickens
You know - It always made me laugh and then feel sorry for the new emerging RIA technologies. As a Flex senior missioner, I found those fail attempts pathetic at. I'm obviously talking on platforms like "Silverlight" (Silver… what? Oh, that project MS closed not so long ago), "Open Laszlo", "JavaFX" (heheh oh boy, the horror!) and the list goes on and on.
To me it appeared that JavaScript is a script (I dare you call it a programming-language!) that played it's part in the web world some 10 years ago, and has no place, but frustration, in today's web technologies.
Alas, Came Steve Jobs and thickened the plot.
HTML5, as the new web standard (you're kidding, right?) enters and changes the game rules. Suddenly we're back at the mercy of JavaScript. Things like the DOM which I happily have forgotten for the sake of Smart View Interfaces, reincarnated and came back to haunt me, along side with browser incompatibilities, poor debugging, and messy code. God damn.

A new hope...
It was then that I have discovered a new hope.
Now, as some of you may know, once upon a time there was ExtJS, which was and still is, a very nice JavaScript library. Then, one day, came the merge with JQTouch which gave birth to "Sencha".
History is lovely, isn't it? Yeah… whatever.

I'm skeptic when it comes to new RIA technologies. Maybe it's because I know what it means to really compete with Flex for territory. I'm not the kind of UI Architects that sees a nice Control or a Component and jumps with joy, pants down, shouting "Eureka!". When it comes to the best UI technology for web applications there are a lot to consider, like: Richness, Extendibility, Community, Browser Support, Vendor liability, Ramp up Time… just to list a few.
ExtJS knocked me down.
I'm used to seeing pixilated controls, with "not quite there" finish to them, but here it actually looks like… well... Flex! Even better to some extents. Going to create a theme in ExtJS, and you will find freaking amazing integration with SASS and Compass that generates you're CSS and with a single variable can alter the entire look of you're application. Now try to extend one of it's components. Again - nothing dodgy there. MVC you say? Well, you have it. I know it's a bit twisted but there is a solution that actually give you the benefits of MVC.
And JavaScript? ExtJS made it so close to OOP, that you even don't feel the heartburn when writing "new" to create an Object.
Oh wait, hold on - what about the client Data package? No problems there, mate. JSON you say? There you go - a verity of "proxies" to integrate with any kind of Web Services out there (though I didn't see any AMF implementation, and as you know AMF out-performs any String based communication when it comes to large masses of data). This, my fellow Flexers, is not some immature platform we're dealing with here. It looks like every aspect was thought of.

Sitting on the shoulders of the giants
So, some might say, and be right about it, ExtJS is sitting on the shoulders of the giants, meaning it looks as if a lot of the component architectures, down to the Data packages ware "inspired" by other technologies, and dare I say, Flex in particular. Do you have a problem with it? On the contrary my friends, I'm good with that.
I must say, though, that the layout configuration is somewhat not intuitive, where words like "fit", "flex" and "stretch" don't do exactly what you thought they would, and hey - don't forget the whole browser compatibility, where extJS 4 doesn't really play nicely with IE9 (CSS gets screwed up and other kinds of glitches)… oh well.

Breathing on Adobe's neck?
Another thing to add to the grill is the fact that Sencha has launched it's own Animator, as if breathing on the neck of Adobe which also, recently, launched it's own solution for animation and transition editing tool for HTML5. now - that's pretentious of Sencha. Why? I believe that the experience that Adobe has in Designer IDE's plus the advantage they have from Flash, plus the integration with other graphic tools (Photoshop, Illustrator) will probably crush any attempts from Sencha, but you can never know. History teaches us that it can take only a single Company to change the entire developing agenda of the web, even if it's taking it 10 years backwards.



Trostik said...

Great post, doing the move my self.

Thanks for the insight.


Flashmattic said...

Cheers :)