Thursday, April 27th, 2006

Javeline DeskRun: Run Ajax Apps as Native Windows Programs

Category: Library

<p>Javeline has announced Javeline DeskRun. DeskRun wraps your Ajax application up, allowing it to be deployed as a simple windows exe. It also gives you local file system access, caching, and more.

Features

  • Internet application on the desktop
  • Package your web application inside a single executable
  • Behaves exactly like a regular Windows application
  • Access to the local file system, start menu and system tray
  • Full control over the application appearance, including title bar and icon
  • Deliver the same application to the Internet and the desktop without alteration
  • Develop applications that can work online, offline or intermittent

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Posted by Dion Almaer at 9:52 am
22 Comments

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3.8 rating from 78 votes

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So, basically … it’s like an HTA file, but with more ease of use?

Comment by Casey — April 27, 2006

Or XUL…

Comment by José Jeria — April 27, 2006

Now we need an Apple and Linux version and I’ll be all set. I wonder if it’s just as hard to get Flash8 installed on it like it is with MSIE. 50% failure due to Managed Ad-ons security “feature”.

Comment by Phill Kenoyer — April 27, 2006

Actually, a Mozilla based app would be better. Things just work better in Mozilla. I think that’s what I’m going to do.

Comment by Phill Kenoyer — April 27, 2006

Wow, these Javeline guys are really hammering out stuff, with TelePort, FrameWork and now DeskRun. Anyone knows if their stuff is any good?

Comment by Rob — April 27, 2006

[...] Great to see Ajaxian and Ajax Magazine pick up the release of Javeline DeskRun. We’re all really curious to see what kind of great apps you guys are going to build with it. [...]

Pingback by Javeline.org - Blog » DeskRun — April 27, 2006

Yeah, it would definitely be better built over a cross-platform app like Mozilla. But hey, it’s a start right? I think it’d be pretty sweet to one day be able to release your web ‘site’ as a desktop ‘app’ … where people don’t VISIT your site, but rather USE it. Neat work.

Comment by DigitaLink — April 27, 2006

Seems, kind of a step backward applications are moving online for a reason, to escape the singularity of existing as an .exe on someone’s C: drive and being open to use regardless of location.

Comment by TheWeb20Dev — April 27, 2006

I just finished and posted dojo.storage, which lets you get both persistent local access to save megabytes of data on the client side, as well as offline access, without having to jump outside the browser; just go to a URL and it works, like a normal web site. Check it out here: http://codinginparadise.org/weblog/2006/04/now-in-browser-near-you-offline-access.html . No needing to wrap anything as an EXE or HTA!

Best,
Brad Neuberg

Comment by Brad Neuberg — April 28, 2006

Hi, Im the Lead developer of Deskrun,

Let me answer some of your questions and points

Deskrun is a way to deliver your web-AJAX application to the desktop, with only a bit of extra work.
If you make your resources access (webservices) use local files, or a cache you can have your ajax application run as an executable. This has benefits for people who dont have continous internet access, such as insurance agents visiting clients but you would still want to use one AJAX development to fit offline as well as online use. This is not a step ‘back’ its just added usability for your development. It will actually function just fine as a ‘Flash’ deskrun if you use a flash file inside the HTML

But Deskrun has more features.
Deskrun contains a virtual-filesystem to access resources, this means that ‘packaging’ a deskrun application is really easy. Deskrun has a built in ‘webserver’ to access files. Such as: jav://app/file.jpg. When Deskrun runs unpackaged this ‘app’ folder points to a directory on your disk. When it is packaged, it points to a ‘sort of’ zip-file which is appended to the deskrun executable. The filesystem has many more features like easily accessing windows shortcuts, moving, copying, renaming, and has full access to the windows explorer namespace.Deskrun also contains a ‘http’ filesystem that can synchronize local files with a webserver (up and down).

On the presentation side, Deskrun allows you to make 8bit-alpha transparent windows, odd-shaped windows, borderless child IE windows inside your browser or MDI-child windows. Deskrun also has System tray functionality, system wide hotkey registration. It can ‘flash’ your windows, do message balloons on your tray and it has built in installer function.

In terms of multiplatform and Firefox use, DeskRun is built multiplatform, and the use of IE has been completely abstracted. I am currently experimenting with embedding a version of firefox inside Deskrun. The idea with deskrun is not like XUL, which is a completely separate environment. With a bit of thinking, it is really easy to make applications that run in Deskrun, as well as on the web. Javeline Framework has these abstractions built into its core.

I hope this answers your questions. Other questions or comments you can find me on the the developer forum at Javeline.org

Comment by Rik Arends — April 28, 2006

sounds fantastic, i will definitely be looking at it for my companies intranet, the virtual filesystem and caching aspects sound very appealing.

commenters please remember that the internet is not just a vehicle for “sites” – at heart is a very cheap, very accessible transmission medium.

Comment by sean g — April 28, 2006

I can some uses for this already. For example, instant messaging. Something I’m eventually going to implement in my site. Now if I can write an application using this, I can easily port over most my current code into this environment, and supply my customers with an application to keep active with their chats while not having to have a browser on my site. I could even add checking their private messages and comments into this. I’m extremely interested.

If ever could be ported to work on Mac and *nix, that would make it that much better.

Comment by Joe — April 28, 2006

I don’t really understand the point of this. My thoughts on web apps is that they are on the web so that the user DOES NOT need to install an executable. For instances such as the instant messaging posted by Joe, it would be better to just make it native Windows imo.

Comment by Andy Kant — April 28, 2006

The point of this is to extend the possibilities for web developers. I don’t know too many web developers who know how to code C++ apps for windows (and likewise, i don’t know too many C++ programmers that are good web developers). HTML and JavaScript are very accessible and have a lower learnign curve than C++ Win32 applications. I think it’s a great idea personally. I plan to use this extensively in my personal projects.

Comment by Damien — April 29, 2006

Looks great. Is there any info on how much this costs, or is it open-source (please!!!)

Comment by Tim — April 29, 2006

My thoughts on web apps is that they are on the web so that the user DOES NOT need to install an executable. For instances such as the instant messaging posted by done today. I just don’t have much to say lately. Such is life. I don’t care.

Comment by fish Fisher — May 1, 2006

Web-applications run inside the web-browser. Web-browsers have many security imposed limitations that will limit the way web-applications can behave. All for very good reasons. You don’t want to give just any website access to your systemtray or full control over the appearance of the window.
However as we move from normal applications to the web, for some applications these functions are really useful. For this reason we developed Deskrun, to be the bridge between these two worlds..
A web application can be developed that runs everywhere inside the browser, but when it is running inside Deskrun it can call a few extra functions to behave exactly like a desktop application. In effect, Deskrun is a fully customizable webbrowser you can modify from inside your web-application. It utilizes the IE engine now, but we are also working on a version based on the Mozilla/Gecko engine.

Example use cases for Deskrun would be big profile based community sites that can now have a more direct link between their users and the site as they can make little Deskrun applet that lives in your system tray, notifying the user directly when their friends get online or a new message has arrived.
Also, businesses that heavily use web-applications in their intranet environments, can now more easiliy get full functionality like local file access, your own icons and so on.

Comment by Rik Arends — May 1, 2006

Here’s a realworld example of the value of going web-based as opposed to desktop [http://www.readitsideways.com/2006/08/web-based-application-to-rescue.html]

Is there really that much need to bring web based apps back to the desktop? Granted there are some cases where it would be necessary to work offline, but sureley that’s becoming less and less of an issue as broadband becomes more ubiquitous?

Comment by Duncan — August 6, 2006

Here’s a realworld example of the value of going web-based as opposed to desktop [http://www.readitsideways.com/2006/08/web-based-application-to-rescue.html]

Is there really that much need to bring web based apps back to the desktop? Granted there are some cases where it would be necessary to work offline, but surely that’s becoming less and less of an issue as broadband becomes more ubiquitous?

Comment by Duncan — August 6, 2006

“becoming less and less of an issue”

That’s nice, but until that quote becomes “is not an issue” there will be people who need to access their things like e-mail, notes and documents offline.

Not to mention the fact that the browser sucks as an interface for a custom application. Sometimes you need your own interface and full control. People need to stop confusing the web apps with apps in general.

Last time I checked my local computer store was chocked with software on the shelf.

Comment by T-Dub — December 5, 2006

I agree. You need your own interface. The browser isnt’ the greatest Duncan but would say it sucks

Comment by Cory — December 11, 2006

I think some of you are missing the point of deskrun. The internet is simply a delivery mechanism that even today is fraught with problems of cross browser and os compatility. Cross browser issues alone often increase implementation costs by 30 to 40%.

May of us use hotmail or facebook or other web sites for communication and social networking. You ask anyone, the first add on they look for is some sort of notifier that sits on there desktop that tells them something has happened on a site they participate. This is particularly true in the case of heavy bloggers and the world of media.

So why not have your static content running on your desktop which simply calls out to the web site to “WEBSERVICES” to get updates on data and not just content.

Wouldn’t it be nice to develop a highly interactive web experience which sits in your tray and tells you a client wishes to talk to you or they have responded to your blog or a multitued of other possibilities.

I believe most of you are thinking of the internet as a one way medium and this is not where things are going. Deskrun, Javeline and the AJAX Implementation model allow for richer experiences being delivered through both traditional and other channels. The web is becomming about interactivity to passivity.

Comment by Keith Chadwick — June 26, 2007

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