Sometimes it seems that you’ve waited ages for an AJAX framework to come along, and then suddenly there’s a whole queue of them lined up, ready for testing. The latest to join the line up is Macromedia - sorry, Adobe now - with its Spry AJAX framework, which you can download here.
Announced and demonstrated last week at The AJAX Experience conference in San Francisco, Spry builds on work done with Flash and Flex, and focuses on working with XML data, as well as providing display widgets and effects. With tools to handle master-detail relationships Spry is an effective way of building, and “AJAXifying”, the type of user interface that’s become familiar to anyone building Flash applications. It’s also a lot easier to code than traditional AJAX approaches…
Adobe has taken a records-based approach to data. XML query results are read into data sets, with simple XPATH queries used to identify records. Nodes are treated as rows, and sub-nodes are treated as column fields. This allows you to quickly load and page through data, using columns to sort and display information. If you’ve used PHP or ASP.NET you’ll find it easy to start using Spry.
Spry lets you link datasets together. All you need to do is set up a binding from one to control the second. This is the key to how you can build a master-details relationship quickly and easily. A demonstration at The AJAX Experience showed a catalogue site, with a list of products and a detailed description and image in separate section of the page. Each of these was a separate Spry dataset in a separate region. By linking the two datasets together a user can then scroll through a list of products in one page region, seeing relevant details and images in another. Adobe is making sure that its AJAX toolkit works well with the rest of its web design and application tools, with direct links between Flex and Spry.