Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Big News in the OpenLaszlo Community: 4.1 and 500k

There have been two major OpenLaszlo announcements in the last two days (yesterday and today) as recorded at http://swik.net/OpenLaszlo. It was announced today that one-half million copies of OpenLaszlo have been downloaded.

While 500,000 downloads is a significant milestone for the OpenLaszlo project, an even bigger announcement for many of us was made a day earlier when it was announced that OpenLaszlo 4.1 is now available and is the recommended released of OpenLaszlo. This is exciting news for anyone who has been waiting for OpenLaszlo's DHTML support to move out of beta Frankly, I was surprised at this release because I assumed that it would still be a while before 4.1's release due to recent interest in OpenLaszlo support of Flash Player 9.

Although the big news associated with OpenLaszlo 4.1's release is its DHTML support, it is also worth noting that "preliminary" support for Flash Player 9 has also been included. Other welcome news includes the observation that OpenLaszlo 4.1 addresses over 800 bugs. The current download page indicates the particular web browser/operating system combinations on which OpenLaszlo 4.1 has been qualified.

The OpenLaszlo 4.1 Release Notes contain additional details and information regarding this release. For example, these Release Notes point out that the button for compiling using preliminary Flash 9 support has been removed from the developer console. However, an OpenLaszlo developer can still choose to compile to Flash 9 using the
lzr=swf9 Laszlo Runtime parameter. The Release Notes also link to the document "Runtime Differences," which documents runtime differences between DHTML and SWF/Flash.

Another piece of recent good news for OpenLaszlo applications is the announcement of SWF searchability. One of the common complaints against Flash-based applications is their reduced ability to support engine optimization. A common approach has been to include text in the HTML "wrapper" pages of Flash applications, but this new approach should provide developers of Flash applications with much greater power and flexibility in search engine support. For now, this increased Flash searchability seems limited to Google and Yahoo! search engines, but my guess is that these two are by far the most heavily used of the search engines.

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