Lively Kernel: How Web Programming Should Have Been Done From the Beginning?
When people decided to do the Web, they started with a text markup language. This was a big step backwards. HTML took off because it had links. It took off and all of a sudden, that's the Web. The truth is there was plenty of computer science and graphical know-how to do that with text and graphics on nearly any computer, but the people doing the Web weren't into that frame of mind.
With time, people started to want more and things got more complex:
Everything you need is in the browser. There is a dynamic language there. It may not be your favorite, but it's not a bad one either. There is also a graphics system. Not the best, but pretty nice. Hook it all up with a simple user interface and you're having fun the way people should have fun with computing. I don't mean just fun for entertainment, but it's creatively inspiring. It makes you want to do cool stuff.
Lively Kernel's main features include:
- Small web programming environment and computing kernel allowing the platform to also function as an integrated development environment (IDE) and making the whole system self-contained and able to improve and extend itself on the fly.
- Asynchronous networking through the use of asynchronous HTTP, similar to AJAX.
A foundational component of Lively Kernel, Morphic is a user interface framework that supports composable graphical objects, along with the machinery required to display and animate these objects, handle user inputs, and manage underlying system resources such as displays, fonts and color maps. Morphic was originally built in the Self programming system and later incorporated into the Squeak Smalltalk environment.
As described in the project's FAQ page, the name "Kernel" was selected because the system:
- Is intended to be self-contained and extensible - the system capabilities can be enhanced using only the system itself
- Exhibits various operating system like qualities - such as the ability to run multiple applications simultaneously
The Lively Kernel does not require any installation or plug-ins and as soon as a link is clicked to start the system, all the Lively Kernel code is loaded into the browser and running. The source code is open sourced through a GPL license and is available for download. A disclaimer on the project's website specifies that Lively Kernel is still "an experiment and a research environment in its early stages, and at this point it is probably more appropriate for students, computing enthusiasts and even children than for, e.g., commercial web site designers."
Requiring the newer implemented SVG support in the browser, Lively Kernel would probably not have been able to deliver us in the past from some of the complexities of web programming but it is however an early promise to bring some technology consolidation and possible ease of use for web programmers. "Enter the Lively Kernel", take the Interactive Tutorial or find more information about the project here.
To the question in the headline
Qualified because I haven't looked at their stuff, but clearly, what we're doing with the web now is entirely unsuited to HTML. When we got started with HTML, it was quick and easy to set up a web site. Now, a website is a much bigger effort than an equivalent traditional client server app in many respects.
Good idea but... it's too late!
Alexandre de Pellegrin
So, what should we do? Let's think about web philosophy. What's really good with the web? It's mainly its ability to access to informations over a network. The problem is that the web has merged informations and how to display informations in a stack of technologies where newers are always fixing olders. I think that there's no solution with actual browsers. The only solution will probably be in the next generation of web (web 4.0?), when browsers would be replaced by a new generation of display software.
Too late, too wrong
Say it with me
The purpose of WEB (a.k.a The Internet)
So a text based language like HTML was the only best friend at the early era for users to write their knowledge (information) for the web.
What would it be like (Web now a days) If a web user has to learn C/C++ language to create a webpage :D then world would be full of C/C++ programmers :)
Slow like hell or Squeak?
No IE support = No future
You people need to spend an afternoon with an MBA.
Re: Slow like hell or Squeak?
I would not get hang up too much at this point on the performance or the prettiness and I would focus more on the idea.
The project's website lists the supported browsers and their versions and acknowledges which run the Lively Kernel apps better or not.
Re: No IE support = No future
You people need to spend an afternoon with an MBA.
Is that the punishment for failing to support IE?
Re: Say it with me
The browser is a presentation layer. Go look up your network models and see how it fits in from that point of view.
A place for everything.
The concept of using a browser for a presentation layer with a server back end has been around since the advent of CGI. None of this is new, and we've been doing it for a long time.
We're putting a nicer face on it now with technologies like SVG. And we've made it work a little smoother with things httprequest, but the web will remain popular for it's ease of publishing. It's just growing is all.
That being said, I think it is a very intriguing idea. Now that hardware is fast enough, it makes a lot of sense to use the browser more like a thin client rather than a simple rendering engine.
Jim Driscoll Dec 08, 2013