Primarily technical blog on Lisp, .NET, C# development.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Weblocks first impressions

On a previous post I was commenting on how easy it was to prototype a domain model in lisp. This happens primarily due to its REPL (read-eval-print-loop) way of programming.

A few days ago I started playing with weblocks which is, as it is referred on its website, "A continuations-based common lisp web framework". The shift of paradigm from page-centric development to something different at first sounded just like something interesting to learn about. Because of that, I tried it a couple of months ago, without much success, trying to replace a league management system I built using only hunchentoot by itself.

Today, with a little bit more experience in lisp I could manage to build a simple prototype with some of the entities of a domain model I was working on. The results were really impressive, primarily due to the straight forward approach to get the presentation done.

At first, the whole composite widget centric approach seems overwhelming but at some point it sinks in and we can see how easy it is to "compose" the web user interface for an application using weblocks without having to think about pages and getting data back and forth from the web session.

Despite the fact that it is still a work in progress, I really liked the feeling of working on a web application and not having to deal with html or ajax to get a nice presentation in minutes. (In my case, one hour, because I had no clue how to use it...)

Anyway, personally I really like building software without having to work on the UI manually. Auto-generation based on the model or on view definitions seems to be the more productive approach to deliver enterprise based applications. I wish one day we could have weblocks and cells-gtk, for example working against the same view abstraction and being able to generate desktop and web user interfaces in a seamless way.

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