objective-j_20080629.jpg

There’s a neat article over at Ars Technica that takes a look at 280 North’s 3-person development team, their recent release of a keynote-like web application called 280 Slides, and the framework that they constructed to make the application. Some time before 280 Slides was developed, the team created an Objective-C-like superset of the Javascript language called Objective-J which implements message passing and a Smalltalk-style syntax. Building on that, they re-implemented much of the Cocoa framework in Objective-J, allowing Cocoa-style applications to be developed that will run natively in the browser.

With Objective-J and Cappuccino, you don’t create applications with a mixture of HTML, CSS and Javascript. Instead, apps are written entirely in Objective-J, following a development model that’s similar to creating desktop applications for OS X. From the article:

“Cappuccino is a re-implementation of Cocoa in Objective-J, which means we reimplemented AppKit, Foundation, CoreGraphics, and parts of CoreAnimation,” Boucher told us. With it, developers familiar with desktop GUI applications can create a rich, desktop-like web app with the same relative ease Cocoa programmers can create a rich desktop app. “Coming from a background of desktop programming, and Cocoa in particular, we realized how much harder building a web application was. So we wanted to try to make things just a little bit easier.”

280 Slides stands on its own as a powerful web-based presentation tool. It’s simplified when compared to its desktop cousins, but it does exactly what most people need in a presentation tool, and it can export to PPT for fine tuning and end-presentation use. The fact that its development inspired the creation of a new language as well as bringing a desktop application development framework to the web just blows my mind.

Objective-J will be released to the public soon as an open source project. On the one hand, I’m not sure if I’m comfortable moving away from the web development technologies I’ve grown accustomed to. On the other, it would be cool to work in a language that allows you to seamlessly port your applications between the desktop and the web.

If you have experience with both Cocoa and AJAX development, please share your thoughts in the comment area.

Cocoa on the web: 280 North, Objective-J, and Cappuccino [via Slashdot]
280 North Blog
280 Slides
Objective-J.org