Dr. Dean Gets Rich Client - InformationWeek

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1/30/2004
04:30 PM
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Dr. Dean Gets Rich Client

The DeanForAmerica.com Web site uses Laszlo Presentation Server 2.0, which serves up a rich experience to visitors.

Howard Dean's DeanForAmerica.com Web site, which has done a remarkable job of building his presidential candidacy, took on a new look during the recent Iowa caucuses. It adopted a rich-client interface that lets the calendar icon blow up to a full-screen presentation that includes the small attribution line: "Powered by Laszlo Systems."

The Dean campaign is one of the latest users of Laszlo Presentation Server 2.0, which lets a Web site interact with visitors in new ways. Visitors accessing the calendar on Dean's site can click on any particular day, and a window appears on the right with the details of Dean's appearances on that date. In addition, a link appears in the window if there's an opportunity to register for the event.

If a visitor wants to see only events in a particular state, the calendar can filter them for that state or list nearby events based on his or her ZIP code, says David Temkin, chief technology officer at Laszlo.

That's a simple application of Laszlo Presentation Server 2.0. The company revealed earlier this week a number of improvements to its development system, which allows developers to produce programs that interact with users after being downloaded over the Internet to a client machine. Temkin says one of the biggest improvements found in Presentation Server 2.0 is the speed with which it can display the interactive features to the user. Instead of needing to go through a pre-compile phase, the application is ready to run when it arrives at the client. Users will see activity from the downloaded application "six to eight times faster" than they did with the earlier version, Temkin says.

One of the constraints on the adoption of rich-client interfaces, a relatively new addition to Web sites, is their slowness in preparing downloaded applications to run on a client machine. It's "the Achilles' heel" of rich-client systems, Temkin acknowledges, and Laszlo has attempted to address the issue in its 2.0 version.

Developers can use a drag-and-drop method for selecting user interface components, such as menus, buttons, and text-input fields, as they build an application for Presentation Server.

The 2.0 version also comes with new developer and administrator consoles. The developer console, called the Krank Optimizer, speeds debugging and allows the developer to apply the speed-up to the application as it's downloaded, Temkin says. The administrative console lets a server administrator monitor Presentation Server more thoroughly as it runs.

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