The number of freely available frameworks for Web development is a bit overwhelming, and it can be hard to keep up with all of them. TechRepublic member araalie mentioned Adobe Spry in a comment about my article on Dojo, and I decided to check out the framework.
Given Adobe's size and Web development products, I am intrigued by the Spry framework for Ajax. Though it is still in a prerelease stage, this article examines the Spry framework and explores what it brings to the table.
Like most large companies, Adobe has a substantial research and development department. The Adobe Labs group is part of it. Adobe Labs is the source for early looks at emerging products and technologies from Adobe. There are a variety of downloads available on the Adobe Labs site, including the Spry framework for Ajax.
What is it?
Adobe is focusing on less-technical persons, while many libraries like jQuery focus on Web developers to utilize and extend their library code. Adobe states that the Spry framework for Ajax is meant primarily for users who are Web design professionals or advanced nonprofessional Web designers. It is not intended as a full Web application framework for enterprise-level Web development. With that said, here's a look at getting and using it.
It is free
The Spry framework is currently at a prerelease version of 1.5. It is freely available from the Adobe Labs site; it does require registration with a valid e-mail address to complete the download. You download it in a single, compressed file. And, you can extract and install it to a directory on a Web server to be up and running in minutes.
As an example, I downloaded and installed it on a local development machine running Microsoft Internet Information Server (IIS) in the following directory:
Using this directory, the samples included with the download are easily accessed via the following local URL on the machine:
Three easy pieces
Spry is made available for use in your applications via the BSD License. The framework includes three main sections of functionality: Data, Widgets, and Effects.
- Data: The Data API includes various functions for working with XML-based data. Spry creates datasets by making calls to the XML data sources URLs. Datasets can be tied together in a master/detail relationship, as well as easily displayed by tying them to regions of a page.
- Effects: The Effects API provides the ability to easily apply visual enhancements to almost any element on an HTML page. The current iteration of the framework includes the following effects: fade, highlight, blind up/down, slide up/down, grow, shake, and squish. Spry uses the script.aculo.us library for some effects.
Another concern with the Spry framework is the use of nonstandard attributes for HTML elements like the DIV tag. This type of design can cause pages using such code to not function in certain browsers. Adobe says the current version of Spry has been tested with Firefox 1.5, Internet Explorer 6, Safari 2.0.3, and Netscape 7.2. You can find more details on this point and other issues in the Spry framework FAQ.
Spry gives you another option
Check out the Web Development Zone archive, and catch up on the most recent editions of Tony Patton's column.
Tony Patton began his professional career as an application developer earning Java, VB, Lotus, and XML certifications to bolster his knowledge.
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Tony Patton has worn many hats over his 15+ years in the IT industry while witnessing many technologies come and go. He currently focuses on .NET and Web Development while trying to grasp the many facets of supporting such technologies in a production environment on a daily basis.