Prism and XUL Could Have Been A Silverlight And Adobe AIR Killer
Rich Internet Application are the future of Web Based Applications and we have seen a number of competing technologies come up in the last year namely Silverlight, Adobe AIR and Prism. In the future we will see a tighter integration between desktop applications and the web. I couldn’t help noticing the similarities between XUL, Silverlight and And Adobe AIR. A few common similarities that I immediately noticed are.
- All of them use a some form of Proprietary XML (A super set of HTML) to define the User Interface.
- Cross Platform. (Silverlight for Linux called Moonlight is under development and Adobe AIR will run on Linux once version 1.0 is out)
Some people like to point out that XAML is a ripoff of XUL. I don’t fully agree with them, but I am sure Microsoft did borrow some ideas from XUL, but that’s technology my friend, ideas are meant to be copied if someone can do it better then they deserve to win.
One thing that differentiates Silverlight and Adobe AIR from XUL is that both of them come with a runtime engine based on their own advanced Proprietary technology and programming languages i.e. .NET and Flash which greatly enhances their capabilities. And this is where both Silverlight and AIR beat Prism /XUL hands down.
Its interesting to see that Mozilla is pushing Prism as an answer to Silverlight and Adobe AIR. I frankly feel its a rather poor attempt since I don’t see much difference between FireFox and Prism, i.e, Prism is just a stripped down version of FireFox.
XUL had a very good chance at taking a shot at Silverlight and AIR long before they had even come out. XUL, Canvas and SVG could have made a really powerful combination.
Some of the key reasons why XUL fails to compete
- Lack of proper documentation Examples.
- No marketing.
- No advanced programming capabilities.
- Inability to package as a Offline desktop Application.
- A Good IDE. (You can’t expect Web Developers to waste time programming in Notepad)
Out of the three I feel Adobe AIR holds a lot of promise, Silverlight is too tied in to Microsoft own platform and they don’t seem committed to making it work on Linux (if they were they would have developed it they selves instead of giving off the work to Miguel de Icaza and the Mono developers) also it is not possible to native develop desktop applications. Prism/XUL is too raw and unfocused to be considered a worthy competitor.