Thursday, August 4, 2011

HLL to Support WebSockets

Visit the High Level Logic (HLL) Website
— Home of XPL (eXtensible Process Language)

It's like XML, but you can store source code in it.

The time is right. The mood is good. HLL will include its own WebSocket server. Earlier today, my test browser app. printed:

WebSocket Test


With HTML5, the world takes another step in trying to catch up to me, in a very substantial way. WebSockets FINALLY provide real two-way communication between the browser and server. HTML5 will revolutionize browser based web applications. WebSockets in particular mean that all that web stuff won't need to be so point-and-clicky anymore.

The WebSocket standard is not yet finalized, but is in “final call” status. This means we should not be expecting any more radical changes to the standard, opening the door to development that won't be threatened by a constantly changing standard.

There are a few WebSocket servers that have been in development for a while, constantly upgrading to keep up with changes to the proposed standard. The Sun/Oracle glassfish project includes one, written in Java of course. Client-Server technology specialist Kaazing offers a WebSocket server free for developing and prototyping. The Google Code site offers one written in Python called pywebwocket that at the moment seems out of date.

Cutting-edge application developers have needed good stable browser implementations. This week, Google announced an upgrade to Chrome's implementation of HTML5 WebSockets. Firefox will also include an upgraded implementation in version 6. Other browsers like Opera have been putting special effort into HTML5 support. Google announced earlier a plug-in that would allow its technology to be used with other browsers, including Microsoft's Internet Explorer.

Google software engineer Takeshi Yoshino comments:
"Given that the specification is now in 'last-call' and and no further breaking changes are expected, it should now be safe to use WebSockets for production application development."
Whether developers need their own WebSocket server is an engineering decision. If you decide to build one yourself, be advised that it's not as easy as a simple socket echo server and there is no Sun/Oracle Java Trail to guide you. You'll face standards piled on standards and interesting encryptions for security. If you want to support all browsers right now, you'll need to support more than one version of the proposed standard. Once you're connected, there are issues like multiple connections to consider.

The HLL WebSocket server will continue a commitment to an independent lightweight framework for distributed applications. Application developers using HLL will be able to use WebSockets in an easy and flexible manner. Communication between HLL components is critical. Client-server technology has been there from the start. WebSockets will tie into key features, replacing older two-way communication techniques developed for earlier versions.

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