Tuesday, September 4th, 2007

Adobe Flex vs. Gaia Ajax Widgets: The gloves come off!

Category: Adobe, Ajax

Holy cow! Thomas Hansen of Frost Innovation really threw down the gauntlet by taking Adobe Flex to task with his post, 7 reasons not to consider Adobe Flex [and how Gaia compares]. Now, I’m not familiar enough with either Flex or Gaia to make a determination as to whether Thomas’ claims are on target or if he’s just trying to get some press for his company’s Gaia Ajax Widgets framework so I’ll let you guys be the judge. Some tidbits that stood out are:

1. Adobe Flex effectively don’t care about any of the web standards we have spent the last 4 decades building! Flex is not a standard and probably never will be. Adobe Flex is a proprietary technology owned and developed by one single industry player; Adobe. What Adobe chooses to do with Flex is 100% up to them to decide including abandon it or make it only work on PCs from Lenovo. If I know Adobe right I think you can also rest assure of that they have a billion patents registered for being able to port it.

7. Adobe Flex is lock-in technology! Owned by Adobe and (hopefully if you choose Flex) maintained by Adobe. Doesn’t interact with any other framework unless either Adobe builds it or you hack Adobe’s protocols.

and some of the pros he mentions about Gaia:

5. Gaia Ajax Widgets is 100% platform independent meaning if Microsoft goes bankrupt you’ll still be able to use Mono Project and Linux and if Novell goes Chapter 11 you’ll still be able to use ASP.NET and Windows Server 2003.

6. Gaia Ajax Widgets builds on top of standards like XHTML, CSS, ECMA, DOM and so on. Meaning everything in a Gaia Ajax Application has been around for more than a decade (almost) and heavily tested and found “worthy” by ANSI and W3C. Regarding security Gaia is 100% on top of ASP.NET and Mono meaning Gaia does not introduce any security issues that are not already present in either Mono or ASP.NET.

I know the market for RIA frameworks is red hot but this was a straight shot across the bow of a VERY big ship. Adobe?

Posted by Rey Bango at 6:30 am

3 rating from 61 votes


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not that im bias either way, but isnt the same thing true for pretty much every non open source code or application anywhere ….. same thing gets said about Microsoft every day !!

Nice work though … maybe it will rattle some cages !!

Comment by Jester — September 4, 2007

Something to note, Adobe plans to make Flex 3 open source, or so I’ve been told. That means his arguments about it being proprietary technology wont hold as much water.

Comment by Jon Hartmann — September 4, 2007

Gaia has bugs even in the samples on the site, very disappointing.
How could one compare such a unpolished product with the adobe ones ?

Comment by ion — September 4, 2007

That post looks like a publicity troll to me. It’s just so startlingly wrong and one sided (the counter arguments are there in the comments on that post, so I won’t bother with them all here) that Thomas Hanson’s article almost makes it up to the level of Microsoft FUD.

I’m not currently a Flex user, so I have no interest in this other than I hate seeing a technology disparaged for completely the wrong reasons.

Comment by Kevin Dangoor — September 4, 2007

“Adobe Flex effectively don’t care about any of the web standards we have spent the last 4 decades building!”

Right there he loses some credibility. First, that statement alone is bloated with exaggeration and overdramatization. Second, the inevitable conclusion is that everyone using compiled code built on a web runtime or plugin (Flash, Flex, AIR, applets, Silverlight) then doesn’t care about web standards. The rest of his missive reads like an open-source-ist manifesto, restating the same points several different ways.

It may well be a good framework sans melodrama.

Comment by WarAxe — September 4, 2007

Shame on you for posting such an unsubstantiated and biased piece of FUD! And not only that, an OBVIOUSLY unsubstantiated and biased piece of FUD. Don’t think that admitting you’re not familiar with the products ending the post with a plaintive “Adobe?” absolves you, either. The next time you have such reservations, maybe you should click “cancel” and not subject us to such shameless trolls.

Comment by Joshua Emmons — September 4, 2007

Screw Flex. And Flash and Silverlight and WPF XBAP and Air and all that stuff. I don’t know why these companies even bother. We fought years to get rid of all these proprietary things and establish standards, and now they want to rewind it all? I don’t want this proprietary stuff, thank you very much.

I’m sorry, but this just annoys me so much. All these technologies are just power plays these companies use to replace open standards with their own stuff.

Comment by LKM — September 4, 2007

PS: Screw Gaia, too :-)

Comment by LKM — September 4, 2007

As other’s have commented, the post is obviously link bait and you took it hook, line, and sinker. It’s one thing to have a reasoned, intelligent debate about each platform’s pro’s and con’s. It’s another to shout unsupported accusations to get some publicity for one’s own product.

Since Adobe announced Flex was open source back in April of this year it makes proprietary mud slinging by a Microsoft .NET ‘competitor’ that more ridiculous. Yes, there’s Novell’s MONO but lets be realistic: what % of .NET development doesn’t happen with Microsoft’s tools?

Comment by Matthew Reinbold — September 4, 2007

LOL. What a ridiculous posting.

It seems every time I come to the Ajaxian recently hoping for something new and interesting about AJAX or RIA technologies, I get this kind of “my framework is bigger than yours” rubbish.

And this was posted by a member of the Ajaxian? That’s weak.

Comment by Bob Lyons — September 4, 2007

Yeah. But can Gaia play Doom? I bet Flex could; and it would be a lot easier to write.

Comment by Joe — September 4, 2007

I’m not against Gaia by default, and not against AJAX solutions for .NET (to be honest I developed an open source one by myself), but Gaia is another attempt to create a new branch in the galaxy of AJAX offers, and this post is clearly an advertisement for a project which cannot absolutely compete with FLEX, which is a bit distant from the pure AJAX concept, but it’s way better and more stable than Gaia.

What I’ve personally done is to get existing JavaScript/AJAX solutions (all of them designed for prototype+scriptaculous, since it’s the JS framework my solution is based on) and adapt the backend to support the calls from the front-end: light, fast and bullet-proof.
As said, Gaia wants to be an alternative to AJAX.NET, without the capabilities and the knowledge for being it.

Comment by Antonello — September 4, 2007

Use AJAX.NET when using ASP.NET. Use Flex if it fits your needs. I hope no one clicked the link. Next …

Comment by Dan — September 4, 2007

So what about SEO with Flex?

Comment by Mike — September 4, 2007

Hey you guys, I’ve been coming here a long time too, and posts like these are not unwelcome by some of us here. This is a big pool of readers, and the diversity of articles from directly talking about Asynchronous Javascript and XML to those discussing other interesting platforms just give us more of breadth of knowledge and awareness.

Thanks for posting Rey, and I guess since you’re new lots of readers are really in to teach you what they like to read. So by all means listen to them, but take it with a grain of salt.

Heck, even my comment is off topic, it’s so easy to digress when others start doing it early on in the commenting.

Ajaxian > Ajaxian+
This subtle change might quiet those always saying, “hey, this has nothing to do with ajax”. Keep up the good work

Comment by Chad Wagner — September 4, 2007

Although Thomas’s post also contains incorrect points, there is one thing I agree with strongly: Flex/Flash does replace the web browser with its own runtime. Although there are certainly benefits to doing that, it’s more proprietary than just using web standards that are supported by all major browsers. Even though Flex will be open source, the required Flash Player is only partly open source, and both will be controlled by Adobe, because Adobe is in charge of distribution: even if you fork the code, it’s going to be difficult to rival Adobe’s marketing efforts. But as long as you are aware of this aspect, it can still be valid to use Flex, because it’s actually a pretty good products.

One thing I don’t understand is why Gaia is compared with Flex. As Gaia is for ASP.NET, I find Telerik, ComponentArt and Infragistics more likely competitors. And I’m wondering if Adobe Flex is getting adoption in the .NET world, especially since its background is in Java.

Comment by Jep Castelein - Backbase — September 4, 2007

@Chad: Thanks for the positive feedback. I really appreciate it. I am trying to be very diverse in my postings and I know that not everyone will like everything I post. As you correctly mentioned, I’m in that learning phase and I know I’ll get in tune with the likes and dislikes of the readers. Thanks again for the feedback. :D

Comment by Rey Bango — September 4, 2007

Sounds like a cry for attention. And the title of this blog also seems a little too dramatic :) considering that there a lot of other Ajax frameworks that a much better that Gaia like Backbase, Ext, Dojo, Nitobi, Zapatec and the list goes on..

I guess they got some attention by their post, not sure if that translates to anything meaningful as users know better.. Although not a direct comparison based on technologies used, Flex kicks Gaia’s butt IMO :)

Comment by Sanjiv Jivan — September 4, 2007

I promised myself I wouldn’t do this, but I’ll jump and answer (@Sanjiv)

First of all the only Ajax Frameworks you mention there which has Server Bindings are Java Frameworks!

Second; To compare a client-side script library with a server-side binded Ajax Framework is like comparing wheels and Boeing Airplanes!


Comment by Thomas Hansen — September 5, 2007

Before visiting Gaia’s site i would figure that it would more open that it really is, especially after criticizing Flex for lock-in. But then i see a framework that is only for ASP.NET, which is not a standard and proprietary! Nothing here to see, please move along.

Comment by Rob — September 5, 2007

Both C# and IL are internationally recognized standards and comes in two different implementations; Microsoft.NET and Mono…!
They are both VERY good Frameworks!

Approx half of our customers are using Mono and Linux instead of .Net and Windows…

Comment by Thomas Hansen — September 5, 2007

lol Thomas, give it up. Your post is plain wrong, your argues are plain wrong, gaia is plain wrong.

You are wrong, move along. Thanks.

Comment by Laurent V. — September 5, 2007

Mmm. Why was this on Ajaxian.? Just an overstated blurb press release.

On visiting the Gaia site, I thought the widgets were slow, brittle and pugly.

Comment by Animal — September 5, 2007

@ Laurent V.
If Gaia is wrong or not is probably not up to me to decide…

However unless you know something the rest of the world does NOT know you cannot deny that both C# and IL are Open and ratified standards by both ISO and ANSI.

If you however happen to actually know anything the rest of the world does not we’d appreciate you “helping us out” seeing what it is that you obviously knows about ANSI and ISO which we don’t know…
Maybe you think they’re “bought” by Microsoft…? ;)

That my blog about Adobe was supposed to create attention I have absolutely no reason to try to hide what-so-ever! However the opinions I spoke are truly mine and many will see them as a pretty accurate description of what Adobe Flex in fact is! And the risk it poses to the world at large if they manage to “binary-fy” the RIA world…
I have been attacked for some of the details in the blog which I however have created erratas for later down in the comments, but in general terms no one so far has managed to be able to argue against the main argument. Adobe is ActiveX 2.0, or Java Applets 2.0 if you wish!

@The World at Large
I suggest others to rather look at our samples than to believe this Animal for his 100% subjective review of Gaia Ajax Widgets.

For those that want to make up their own opinions about the “apparently slowness” of Gaia Ajax Widgets you can find our samples section here;

Now we are occasionally being DOS attacked by Adobe Choir boys thinking that I do not have the right to speak my opinion and that rather would see my writings being burned into a gigantic “book-burning-orgy”, but at least until now we have managed to dodge the biggest problems meaning our samples section would be a relatively fair and accurate proof of the average speed you can expect in similar custom Gaia Ajax Widgets solutions…

Comment by Thomas Hansen — September 5, 2007

I think we’d all appreciate a bit of editorial control here…
There’s a lot of good work going on out there in the Ajax widget market – I’d rather not waste my time with this ranting monkey.

You’ve got a great platform to promote new technology and save us trawling the web – Let’s get the show back on the road Rey ;)

Comment by WJ — September 5, 2007

@ WJ
That is just the worst but licking piece of literate crap I have ever read in the whole of my life…!
I probably shouldn’t have posted this comment either, but the temptation was just TOO great…

Comment by Thomas Hansen — September 5, 2007

Thomas Hansen said: “@ WJ
That is just the worst but licking piece of literate crap I have ever read in the whole of my life…!
I probably shouldn’t have posted this comment either, but the temptation was just TOO great…”

Oh my, Mr. Hansen. I do fear that your spelling skills and self-control are beginning to match the clarity of your IT awareness. I shan’t comment further, for surely if the Ajaxian chorus does not enlighten thee even a little, then you are beyond my skill to heal.

Comment by WarAxe — September 5, 2007

What??? Last 4 decade of the web standard…please. talk logic not FUD.

Comment by Patrick Whittingham — September 5, 2007

Thomas wrote : “I promised myself I wouldn’t do this, but I’ll jump and answer (@Sanjiv)

First of all the only Ajax Frameworks you mention there which has Server Bindings are Java Frameworks!

Second; To compare a client-side script library with a server-side binded Ajax Framework is like comparing wheels and Boeing Airplanes!”

I said the list goes on.. :)

RadControls with ASP.NET binding has a really slick looking UI (comparable to Ext).

The .NET community based AJAX Control Toolkit with ASP.NET bindings also looks pretty sharp. Check out the examples here :

Comment by Sanjiv Jivan — September 5, 2007

I think the first RFC for the telnet protocol is from about 1967 something…!
If your only “constructive” criticism is about my spelling skills then I suggest you apply to become an English teacher…

Comment by Thomas Hansen — September 5, 2007

Telerik have pretty awesome controls if you’re looking for a pre-fabricated house and not building blocks to build one yourself…
Only works with ASP.NET though and no Mono…
Too bad you’ll have to download a terabyte of JS to execute them though (Telerik), our COMPLETE JAVASCRIPT is 450 KB and after compressing we’ll get it down to somewhere around 50KB…
Normally you’d never download JS for more than 10-20% of our widgets at the same page…
ASP.NET AJAX (Toolkit Extension) is also pretty “nice looking” only there you’ll have to YOURSELF DEVELOP a TERABYTE of JavaScript before it’s useful in anything more advanced than “Hello World 2.0″…


Comment by Thomas Hansen — September 5, 2007

One thing you didn’t address: flex has a better user experience than any of the ajax libraries. Sorry, but javascript has its limits.

Every technology is a bet. Look at SVG: standards based, open source, etc. But flash pretty much killed it because it’s so much more powerful and has better tools.

Another point I don’t see made often enough: design by committee doesn’t work well. Committees tend to over-design and get bogged down in vested interests and “process”. The best designs are done by small groups of very smart people with complete control (witness Ruby on Rails).

Comment by phil swenson — September 5, 2007

@Phil Swenson
Thank you for an intelligent comment, I don’t see too many of those after I officially “declared war” upon Adobe… ;)
Yup! Both of your arguments are true!
Regarding the Flash/Flex user experience I’d never disagree on that it’s better than the JavaScript/Ajax/DHTML user experience, but the gap is closing in every day and very soon you will see that about the only thing JS solutions won’t be able to do is Video and such “big FPS demanding” apps…
About committees that’s totally true, JavaScript, CSS and XHTML however ARE standardized, and the standards are pretty awesome too!
No need to use something that’s not standardized then ;)
(unless you’re creating Flash Games or Video Players that is)

Comment by Thomas Hansen — September 5, 2007

Adobe is ActiveX 2.0, or Java Applets 2.0 if you wish!

I couldn’t agree more. I Remember back in 1997 an Adobe sales team tried to get us to transition our entire intranet to cross-linked PDF files. Of course that was back in the day the PDF plugin didn’t take 5 minutes to load up [I know it is faster in version 8].

It’s not Adobe you have to worry about, it’s who eventually buys them out! Just look at the number of former Macromedia tools/technologies that Adobe killed off in the name of “synergy” and stock-price.

I’d hate to have written a large enterprise level site or application only to have the rug pulled out from under it because Adobe buggers up the plugin or decides the product isn’t profitable so they kill it.

Comment by Chris Phillips — September 5, 2007

@Chris Phillips
Ha, ha, ha…! :D
That story will definitely reach my long term memory… ;)

Comment by Thomas Hansen — September 5, 2007

Yes because microsoft’s .NET is less evil than Adobe’s Actionscript. Moron.

Comment by vance Dubberly — September 6, 2007

@Vance Dubberly
No, but Mono’s Open Source implementation of the standardized .Net runtime, compiler and C# specification is…

Btw for all you Adobe Choir boys here, I’ve written another blog putting Flex back to where it belongs; alongside Power Point for presentations and similar non-code constructs; http://ajaxwidgets.com/Blogs/thomas/adobe_flex_sucks__use_powerpoi.bb

Thomas Hansen

Comment by Thomas Hansen — September 6, 2007

Btw, one funny detail…
I was heading for the Adobe Flex Forums over at adobe.com to post a link to my blog about my newly acquired knowledge about what Adobe Flex actually REALLY is and I couldn’t help noticing that the forums are built using (probably I assume) Cold Fusion and not Adobe Flex. (which is supposed to be such a “Rich Internet Application” Framework)

Can any of you Adobe Choir boys tell me why is that…?

I thought I was supposed to use Flex for so-called “Rich Internet Applications”…?

Comment by Thomas Hansen — September 6, 2007

Somebody *please* silence this useless attention whore (Thomas Hansen).

Comment by Jeff Howden — September 6, 2007

@Jeff Howden
Let me see if I understand you correct, just because I’ve got an unpopular opinion I should be silenced…?
Now I don’t mean to associate myself with people of far greater importance than myself, but if you look at history you’ll see a lot of other people having unpopular opinions; Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Socrates and even Jesus!
Socrates and Jesus was even sentenced to DEATH because of their unpopular opinions.
This very interesting phenomena is actually re-occurring so often it has a name (Platou wrote a book about it too)
“Dictatorship of Democracy”


Comment by Thomas Hansen — September 7, 2007

Ignorance is bliss eh Hansen?

Comment by twat — September 12, 2007

I think as a user of the Gaia Widgets I might be able to give my opinion.. The Gaia controls are quite good.. I was skeptical at first but after using it for some of my projects I am VERY impressed with the polish and “wow” it gives to my web applications. I and my customers are very happy with my choice to use the Gaia Widgets. Now does it have rough spots… sure it does… but the support is astounding and the people I have worked with were very friendly, Thomas being one of them. I am sure those rough spots will be buffed out in no time.
It seems to me many people here are have a negative opinion only because they don’t like the way the comparison of Gaia to Adobe was presented. And I also believe that many here seem to have invested much time and emotion in some other toolkit.. So they feel there is no longer any need for “another one”…

“Ignorance is bliss…” Isn’t that true if you discount something without investigating it… isn’t that being ignorant…


P.S. Before some of you start up, no one from Gaia contacted my to write this…

Comment by Bryan Grossman — September 12, 2007

@Bryan Grossman — I agree with your comments.

I have been forced into working with Flex on a project – and I hated just about every minute of it. Yes, it made some very nice looking interfaces – but then it came time to wire up the back-end code and the “fun” began. I kept saying to myself “You’ve got to be kidding”… and longed to scrap the whole dang project and just get it done in ASP.NET – with or without any Ajax. The support options available to me for Flex where next to nothing. Finding code samples – good luck. However, there is a HUGE support community available for both ASP.NET and Ajax (in general).

I’m currently evaluating Gaia – and whether to use it versus ASP.NET AJAX 1.0 and/or Anthem.NET. I have to say that I’m very impressed thus far. We just have to get past the fact that the other two Ajax libraries are “free”. You get what you pay for comes to mind :)

Comment by Mark Scott — October 15, 2007

Gaia’s market appears to be more driven towards .Net developers, and the thing they fear and hate the most right now is Flex and Flash. With good reason, because for Microsoft, Adobe could be to web tools competition what Google is to search. This link is pure market pandering and FUD, with a focused audience — Microsoft zombies. This is simply an end-around business pitch saying “Use Microsoft and Gaia.” Even if all this propaganda were actually true, it’s completely irrelevant. Flex and Flash are making a solid, substantial place for themselves in the market. One of those places is video; remember YouTube? Gaia ia an ant. It can take it’s gloves off all it wants, and never get noticed. This was certainly entertaining, I laughed out loud several times. ;)

Comment by cjoplin — December 20, 2007


Try to use it and then before you begin creating stuff with it recognize the EXPENSIVE licensing model. Oh we provide the code GPL but if you want to put it on the internet then you have to buy a license, and for 1 server it will cost you $450! ! ! Maybe we should all send all of our money to the GAIA people. I like open source stuff anyways, like athem

Comment by nbarger — March 6, 2008

Gaia has three prices, one is free as in freedom where you develop GPL derivates yourself. The second is royalty free usage where you pay 295 EURO per developer. The third is free for developers where you pay 295 EURO per server and/or domain…
If you want free as in free beer stuff there’s always ASP.NET Ajax (mostly abandoned by Microsoft ;)) or Anthem.NET (abandoned by James Diamond ;) or Ajax.NET Pro (abandoned by Michael Scwharz ;) though…
Do you see the pattern here…? ;)
Free as in “free beer” is unfortunately not a way we’ve been able to run a business with a lot of developers trying to do our best to create a great Ajax Framework…
Beside if you do the math on the time you’re saving on using Gaia compared to all other Ajax Frameworks I know about, we’re actually *giving*you*money* during your first week of development…

Comment by polterguy — May 1, 2008

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