AJAX Animator Demonstrates AJAX in RIA World
AJAX Animator 0.2 was released in early August. This open-source project uses AJAX technologies to provide a fully standards-based, online, collaborative, Web-based animation suite. The 0.2 release shows good potential for AJAX plays in the RIA world. The creator of AJAX Animator, who uses the alias Antimatter15, recently shared his insights with InfoQ.
In describing the development of AJAX Animator, Antimatter15 explained:
It's using the excellent Ext JS 2.1 framework to define the UI, which includes almost everything. The timeline is raw HTML/CSS. The drawing technology is OnlyPaths by josep_ssv, though it used to be Richdraw. Actually, Onlypaths is based on RichDraw, but it is much more powerful. On the server side, the flash is generated with the Freemovie library, which is in PHP. I use GD2 for GIF export, and the other formats are done client-side. On a production server, the static content is served by Google App Engine, after all the scripts have been compressed with YUI Compressor. I develop mainly in Aptana (Eclipse), and the smaller stuff is made in Notepad2. Virtually all the icons are from the silk icon set.
Animations created using AJAX Animator can be transformed into some common formats, as Antimatter15 observes: “Over at the file button, you can use the powerful new JSON-based file format. Below that, there is a new publish menu that enables users to export to several formats, like Adobe Flash, Processing (language), Microsoft Silverlight (XAML), and Animated GIFs."
In terms of the standards, Antimatter15 says:
I personally like open standards, but they aren't always possible. Anything that vaguely resembles or has a slightest chance of becoming an open standard is fine with me. Even so, I also don't like it too much when a new proprietary system ( Silverlight) is introduced to combat an open one (SVG). Nevertheless, Silverlight is, in my mind "better" than flash, because it integrates better with a browser and shares somewhat similar markup with SVG. But I think people should be able to choose their preferred format, and competition is good.
When asked how AJAX fits into the media-rich RIA space, Antimatter15 responds:
I imagine that people will eventually make Ajax video editing tools, once the technological capability is there. But, for now, we're basically stuck with what we already have and, thus, need to compensate for its disadvantages. Innovation really hasn't happened on the Web since Internet Explorer gained a monopoly, but now the browser wars are gearing up, with Google Chrome (V8), Firefox 3.1 (TraceMonkey), Safari (SquirrelFish), and IE 8 (which really doesn't count...), really showing off competition in the browser space. In the plugin space, there's also growing competition between the once-monopoly Flash and the new Silverlight and JavaFX and Google Gears in the plugin space. In this respect, it looks like the users are the ones who are winning.