Splatforms and Adobe Spry

Posted on August 19, 2010
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The Spry framework for Ajax from Adobe Labs is quite unique in its approach to handling XML data. According to their home page:

Spry is a JavaScript-based framework that enables the rapid development of Ajax-powered web pages. Not a JavaScript guru? No problem. Spry was designed to feel like an extension of HTML and CSS, so anyone with basic web-production skills can create next-generation web experiences by adding the power of Ajax to their pages.

Spry can be used with any server-side technology (ColdFusion, PHP, ASP.Net etc.). By building the front-end of your web application with Spry you enable a more efficient designer-developer workflow by keeping UI separated from back-end application logic.

The problem is, no one at Adobe seems to be actively working on it. It has been sitting at version 1.6 for as long as anyone can remember, and for quite some time now, people have been asking, “Is Spry dead?” The answer has never been quite clear, and nothing seems to be changing with the codebase. They still have an active forum, and people still seem to be developing new software with the product. Still, the lack of active development is definitely a little unsettling, but then, there isn’t really another product out there that does what Spry does in the way that Spry does it.

We went back and forth on whether or not to use this product, considering all of the above, but in the end we decided to go ahead and include it in the mix. On Splatforms.com we use Spry to display the list of work items on both the Pending and Processed tabs, and we also use Spry tabbed panels for both the Preferences tab and the My Account tab.

Like all Spry users, we would prefer to see Adobe actively working on the next generation of the Spry framework, but even without any new development, the offering in its current form contains a lot of useful capabilities, makes a number of things far, far easier than doing it any other way, and simply adds value to site in its present form, even without anyone currently working on keeping it up date or making any improvements. We’d feel a lot more comfortable knowing that Adobe had some kind of commitment to support it, but even without their direct support, there are plenty of other Spry lovers out there who can offer a hand if and when needed.

We’re still not 100% sure that it wasn’t a bad move long-term to embrace what looks to be a potentially abandoned product, but so far, everything seems to be working out. We would probably seriously consider dropping it for something else that does what Spry does. The problem with is that, as far as we know, there really isn’t anything out there right now that does what Spry does in the manner in which Spry does it.

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