Wednesday, August 10th, 2005

Backbase reviewed by Infoworld

Category: Articles

Infoworld has completed a review on Backbase.


For instance, a Backbase Web page includes a link tag that starts off with an ‘a’ like a standard link, but it includes unfamiliar attributes such as b:action=’load’ or b:url=’window-01.xml’ or b:mode=’aslastchild.’ These are parsed by the Backbase libraries and interpreted by them.

Many of the tags have no resemblance to HTML. The actions are linked to events by creating an <s:event> tag and filling it with <s:task> tags, not by writing JavaScript. There are <s:task> tags for all of the major changes that can be made in the Web page, such as selecting some text in a field. The result is a well-structured hierarchy of XML.

The good news is that the Backbase architects have a talent for elegant solutions, unlike the cluster of committees that produced the current mess called JavaScript. The event mechanism is straightforward and the XML provides a good amount of discipline.

The bad news is that you can’t do much with your hard-earned knowledge of producing cross-browser JavaScript. The API is, for most intents and purposes, an entirely new language. It’s smaller, cleaner, and crisper, but it’s still new. If you’re fed up by the lack of consistency in JavaScript, you’ll enjoy the rigidity of Backbase. Still, some JavaScript coders will resist Backbase, because it can’t be learned incrementally.

There’s no arguing with the results, though. I built several Web pages and modified some of the built-in examples. It’s simple, for instance, to create a very swish store by editing a few XML files that describe the objects. Several of the Backbase examples like to separate the data from the display logic. You don’t even touch the HTML or JavaScript; the Backbase code parses the XML to get the information about the items for sale. The coding is filled with XPath logic, which will make XML lovers happy.

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Posted by Dion Almaer at 11:22 am
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