Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Gestalt 1.0 and the Gestalt Widget Pack

Gestalt is a project by Mix Online to use Silverlight and the Dynamic Language Runtime to allow you to script web pages with Python or Ruby instead of with Javascript.
DLR.js is a library released by a collaborative effort between the Dynamic Language Runtime team and MIX Online Labs. This JavaScript library allows you to write Ruby, Python & XAML code in your (X)HTML pages. It enables you to build richer and more powerful web applications by marrying the benefits of expressive languages, modern compilers, AJAX & RIAs with the write » save » refresh development model of the web.
 Gestalt has reached a significant milestone with the release of version 1.0 and a widget pack. It has matured to the point where you can do really crazy things like run Rails *in your browser*. Probably not specifically useful, but it shows what it is capable of:
A few months ago, we released Gestalt beta as a MIX Online lab.  Gestalt began as an exploration—a way to bring Ruby and Python to the web browser.  Today, we’re delighted to announce that Gestalt has been updated to version 1.0. It's now part of IronRuby 1.0 and IronPython.

What’s new in Gestalt 1.0? Gestalt Beta -- plus more!
  • Supports bundling of Ruby and Python files using each language’s convention.  You can now (for example) package and run Rails on your client!
  • Allows you to dynamically load assemblies (only downloads what you need)
  • Integrated with the Dynamic Language Runtime
    Simplified and streamlined model for creating Gestalt apps.
  • No jQuery dependency.
  • Support for remote references to Gestalt
  • Visual Studio debugging support
  • A browser console for debugging and manipulating Gestalt
  • Rich error reporting
  • Built-in support for loading external assemblies and content
  • Support for running multiple instances of Gestalt on the same page
They also have a longer blog entry discussing the thinking behind Gestalt and what it makes possible. Perhaps worth drawing out from this article is the following: "By adding a <script>
tag to the top of your HTML file, you can automatically enable use of HTML5-compatible video and audio tag syntax.
Last week, we discussed the fact that Microsoft invests heavily in both HTML5 and Silverlight, two technologies that other companies would have you believe are mortally opposed.  Our commitment to both was underscored this week by our announcements about IE9 and Silverlight 4.

When we launched Gestalt beta less than 4 months ago, our goal was to demonstrate a really simple idea: that a proprietary plugin like Silverlight complements and advances the standards-based web.  With today’s launch of Gestalt 1.0 and the first few widgets in the Gestalt Widgets Pack, I’d like to drill deeper into this underlying philosophy of Gestalt.

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