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samtregar (2699)

samtregar
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http://sam.tregar.com/

Journal of samtregar (2699)

Tuesday June 03, 2003
12:33 AM

HTML Widgets

[ #12577 ]
I'm just about to release HTML::PopupTreeSelect. It's an HTML::Template-driven widget that makes it easy to select a node from a tree with an interface that looks like Windows Explorer. It'll work in Mozilla 1+ everywhere and IE 5+ on Windows and Mac. It's a lot like the xTree component created by WebFX except it's designed to popup into its own layer (err, I mean CSS absolutely-positioned div, I guess) and it does all the HTML generation on the server-side so it's generally faster but needs more bandwidth. It's also more configurable in the ways I need it to be and less configurable in the ways I don't.

Oh, and it's under the Perl license instead of being purely GPL'd. I'm in the strange position of caring about that since the way I'm using xTree right now is probably creating a derivative work in the GPL sense.

The biggest problem I've encountered in this project is that HTML has really poor support for building widgets. Sure, I knew that already, but this project has really driven it home. Building something reusable and configurable in HTML is such a nightmare. I'm again amazed that this poorly-designed technology gained such sweeping dominance. Who thought it was a good idea to design a GUI toolkit without an extension framework? I suppose they didn't realize they were designing the GUI toolkit which would eventually be used to implement half the software on the planet. Sigh.

-sam

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  • That's a neat idea. I'm looking forward to seeing it on CPAN.

    The biggest problem I've encountered in this project is that HTML has really poor support for building widgets. Sure, I knew that already, but this project has really driven it home. Building something reusable and configurable in HTML is such a nightmare. I'm again amazed that this poorly-designed technology gained such sweeping dominance. Who thought it was a good idea to design a GUI toolkit without an extension framework? I suppose they did

    • Not to beat a dead horse, but is the Document Object Model [w3.org] supposed to be the extension framework for HTML?

      I don't think so. Ask youself this - if you wanted to create a combo box (combinating text input and dropdown found on Windows) in HTML, could you do it with the DOM? Nope! In fact, you basically can't without going WAY outside the bounds of HTML. That's what I mean by no widget building.

      -sam

      • I tend to like doing things on the server side as well. But others [google.com] have used the DOM to do this sort of things fairly effectively.
        • I must have missed the link in there that points to a combo-box (or any new HTML widget) created with just DOM and Javascript. All I see are normal dropdown boxes behaving strangely.

          Maybe you don't know what I mean by combo-box? Look at the top of your browser window - if you're using Mozilla you'll see a text entry with an arrow at the right. Click the arrow and you get a list of choices descending directly below the text entry. I'd love to be able to do that in HTML, but the amount of work would be

          • Maybe you don't know what I mean by combo-box?
            I'll take your word for it, I don't see how this is different from a select box which automatically displays when you click on some sort of header. It could then submit when selected. All these things are achievable with Javascript and DOM. Not that I advocate either.
    • I'm again amazed that this poorly-designed technology gained such sweeping dominance. Who thought it was a good idea to design a GUI toolkit without an extension framework?

    HTML isn't meant to be fully general, it's meant to be markup language for displaying documents on the Web. An extension framework adds all sorts of complications to HTML rendering code that is largely unnecessary.

    Because of the regular nature of HTML ,especially since XHTML, it's relatively easy to develop meta-languages that can

    • Because of the regular nature of HTML ,especially since XHTML, it's relatively easy to develop meta-languages that can include Extensibility which can be easily translated directly into HTML.

      Well, I guess if it's so easy I must be pretty dumb. I'm finding it to be a lot of trouble. Can you point me to one of these easily implimented meta-languages so I can use that instead?

      -sam

      • Re:Simplicity (Score:2, Informative)

        Well, maybe not that easy. I hadn't done it myself, after all... I was just speculating. Here's an article [developer.com] that describes doing something like this with XSL. I found this from a Google search with "HTML Widget Generation". Here's another interesting article on a related subject [roninhouse.com], in which the author says the following:

        I don't really mean to be sarcastic, though there is considerable irony here. The web's move away from established GUI paradigms was necessary at the time. Had HTML required GUI-programmi