I’m posting this from the lobby of the Westin Hotel in Santa Clara, the site of the O’Reilly Emerging Technology Conference. Laszlo has a major presence there, with a booth, a presentation, and a Birds-of-a-Feather session.
I spent some time at each of these; we’re still a small enough company that it makes sense for me to spend a lot of time talking to developers (I gave half the presentation — a demo of the LZX language — and I hosted the BOF). The people I met at all of these events, including the ones who came by the booth, were sharp and asked great questions, such as about mobile computing, alternative runtimes, and how we work with the open source community (we use open source software in our product, and we want to create an exchange for open source components).
The topic for the BOF was the economics of software and services focused on the user experience. The industry has been obsessed with server software and server engineering skill sets, but I think the interesting work is going on in technologies that improve the user experience, and the “last mile” of this improvement is in fine-grained interaction and presentation, which are necessarily implemented on the client. The paradox is that corporations are reluncant to pay for client development and technologies. BOF participants floated a lot of ideas about why this is true and how it will change, and probably most of them are true. My pet theory is that business managers value business logic, and that once the logic moves to the client (as will have to to support responsive interaction with the presentations of business objects), the money will follow.
David Temkin and I talked with Timothy Appnel, who writes for O’Reilly. Serendipitously, Appnel told us he had just wished for a Flash application compiler; although the Laszlo product goes beyond this (the source to an LZX application doesn’t look anything like the source to a Flash application, and uses a different set of services), it still looked like a good match to what he actually wanted, which was a way to deploy rich internet applications without having to use the Flash authoring tool and learn about timelines, movie clips, and stages.