OpenRico and Prototype
by Mike Levin SEO & Datamaster, 07/09/2005
As I research this Ajax stuff, I am beginning to question whether my planned move to Ruby on Rails is really worth it, or whether I couldn’t just more rapidly incorporate Ajax capabilities into my existing joyful VBScript-based rapid app-dev framework. Perhaps I’ll do them both, expanding my existing system, incorporating one of the toolsets to provide maximum bang-for-the-buck, and make Ruby on Rails a less urgent, parallel development effort. I already bought the Pick Axe 2 Ruby book. Ruby sure sounds like the bridge I was looking for from my Microsoft-dependent scripting world to both the open source object and oriented worlds. But every time I sit down with my own framework, I am newly impressed by how much I get for so little, and how easy it is for me to evolve the overall system. The question is how hard it will be to get back to that point with ROR? Anyway, that’s the subject for future articles. This entry has to do with my latest Ajax investigations.
The particular noteworthy demos are a Live Grid demo, which virtually eliminates the need for data paging with a scrolling solution that avoids loading the overwhelmingly large datasets that made scrolling solutions not feasible in the past. The argument for this approach is discussed in an article Death to Paging!, and they almost have me convinced. When you combine this live scrolling datagrid with their innerHtml demo (which I’ve called the preview pane or show-detail window), you have the makings of the fourth generation of my generalized system, which I documented here years ago. My mentor at the time was guiding me in this direction, and I see now how ahead of our time we were. It’s possible to build a browser-independent web-based application that performs as well as local custom compiled code, or whatever you want to call it. Think of the Web-based email vs. Microsoft Outlook. Web-based email was always characterized by compromises and lesser performance than it’s email-client counterparts. GMail started to change that in the smallest way. But you can feel from reading all the Ajax articles that a revolution is on the way. The concept of the browser as being an alternative and competitive computing platform to the underlying computer/OS/API’s is back. This was the allure of Netscape before MSIE became part of the operating system, and a better browser to boot. This was the allure of Java, before the average Web developer realized it was for the programming elite. And now, it is the promise of a standardized web browser document object model (DOM), Ajax libraries, and the server-side programming language of your choice.
OK, so where does that leave me now? I am going to prototype something like my plan in both Ruby on Rails and in my current GS3. I’m going to stick with the unglamorous naming convention of GS3 and GS4 for now, until I’m ready to popularize my work. I’ve got some kick-ass naming ideas. I’ve learned the lesson of Remote Scripting vs. Ajax! Anyway, I’m getting ready to learn about OpenRico and prototype.js.