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Seamless on/offline: Design winForms and deploy as ajax webapp on mono

9 October 2007 One Comment

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Visual WebGui looks very interesting from a perspective that it allows you to develop a winforms application as you normally would and deploy it as a webapp (also).

As per some previous posts, I like to be able to jump seamlessly between platforms. I don’t want to be tied down to anything if I can help it. This is why I wouldn’t buy an Ipod and like Mark Pilgrim, I don’t get the iphone phenomena. I want to use my application online, offline seamlessly. I want to have the same experience, no matter where I am, what I am doing etc. Software like NoMachine’s NX server give me this ability. I have a ultra-portable laptop I bought for $280 on ebay, I have Three wireless, which means I can be a passenger in a car / train / ferry / bus nearly anywhere in metro-Sydney and still have access to my Ubuntu desktop.. that’s frikkin’ cool.

But what about when I don’t have internet access? Well, I previously used Ifolder to keep all my files in sync (which uses mono btw) but ifolder has to be the worst managed open source project I have ever used. Trying to keep a client / server combination that worked together proved to be a feat for me too many times and finally I went in search of something else. I then switched over to Mindquarry (I could have just used svn with some python scripts that watched folders and syncs when it sees a change, I guess) but Mindquarry actually offers a few more features than svn or Ifolder alone ie: Tasks, timeline, wiki and teams.

So, now we have our files synchronised and I use imap, so we have mail synchronised and I have used sitebar for bookmarks for a very long time but there’s something more. What about my feeds in opera? all my vim settings? my bash_profile alias? This is where I think Conduit will be able to help me out eventually (one of the reasons I looked forward to moving to Gnome)

Now, I am really raising two separate issues here. On one hand, I am talking about syncronising two separate computers and on the other, I am talking about a seamless experience between online and offline applications. I think the first is mostly being taken care of. The second issue has some solutions becoming available also. This is where I see stuff like Google Gears, Adobe Air and db4o especially their db4o replication systemproving to show their usefulness.

Sidenote: In the Enterprise Data Centre, Lefthandnetworks has some very similar concepts happening for data virtualisation for online / offline drs solutions as db4o has for persistance – and more importanly for me, their new VMware product looks very promising for high availability + drs soutions using vmware.

So, now I bring up my original point in my posting. Let’s say we develop a desktop applications using db4o (mono bindings available) and I think we could even do that using the .Net python-like language called Boo – the developer of said language happens to also be a developer of db4o. Now, we take said winForms application and deploy it to the web using Visual WebGui. Now, I know the web purists might find this all very freakish as I haven’t done a W3C Validation on it, but I am half-certain something will be wrong and it’s not the sort of thing you are going to be delivering to blind people. I am talking about applications with a specific user base, something like a Mobile Lender, Mobile Salesperson, Microfinancing in remote areas etc.

In my post A Case for Learning Python I put forth my reasoning for deciding to spend all energy learning a language in Python – I don’t think any other language can offer the same access to so much for so little (time investment) as Python.

I will add something to the original list: Windmill is a web testing framework intended for complete automation of user interface testing, with strong test debugging capabilities and of course, it’s written in Python and uses CherryPy.

Also, in the same vein are WebUnit and Twill (both written in Python)

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