Open Sourcing of Avalon

Jon Udell, following up to Joe Beda's follow up to the J2EE/Avalon post:

With 20/20 hindsight, Beda wishes things had been done differently: a smaller team, incremental releases. And he holds out some hope for the awkwardly named Windows Presentation Foundation/Everywhere (WPF/E), the lightweight, portable, .Net-based “Flash killer,” that I discussed in my interview with Bill Gates from the 2005 Professional Developers Conference.

The WPF/E runtime won’t implement all of XAML (XML Application Markup Language), a .Net language tuned for declarative application layout. But “the portion of XAML we’ve picked,” Gates told me, “will be everywhere, absolutely everywhere, and it has to be.”

“Everywhere” means the kind of ubiquity that the Flash player enjoys on Windows and Mac desktops, and to a lesser extent on Unix and handheld devices. And it sets up an arms race between Adobe and Microsoft, each giving away razors (that is, players) in order to sell blades (development tools).

Here’s a crazy idea: Open-source the WPF/E, endorse a Mono-based version, and make XAML an open standard. Why? Because an Adobe/Microsoft arms race ignores the real competition: Web 2.0, and the service infrastructure that supports it.

The HTML/JavaScript browser has been shown to be capable of tricks once thought impossible. Meanwhile, though, we’re moving inexorably toward so-called RIAs (rich Internet applications) that are defined, at least in part, by such declarative XML languages as Adobe’s MXML, Microsoft’s XAML, Mozilla’s XUL (XML User Interface Language), and a flock of other variations on the theme.

Imagine a world in which browsers are ubiquitous, yet balkanized by incompatible versions of HTML. That’s just where RIA players and their XML languages are taking us. Is there an alternative? Sure. Open XAML. There’s a stake in the ground that future historians could not forget.

Convenient use of HTML's <b> tag added.

Posted on 16 Aug 2006 by Miguel de Icaza
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