Back at BellSouth, we were creating alternatives to Central to get Flash on users’ desktops to enable us to provide them with our services and BellSouth’s branding. It was pretty fun, and I got to explore a wide array of technology during some R&D phases.
One of the alternatives to Flash + mProjector, or Flash + Custom C wrapper was Kapsules. Kapsules is a runtime that allows the creation of desktop widgets that all run in a common runtime engine, much like Konfabulator. Developing for it, however, coming from a Flash background, sucked. While it supported a plethora of scripting languages (JScript, JScript.NET, Python, PHPScript, PerlScript, RubyScript, VBScript), writing ActionScript 1 style code in JScript, while familiar, blew when you were used to ActionScript 2.
You were also starting from ground zero. While the API is nice in terms of tools to draw and utilize interactivity, there is no framework, and no set of components. Additionally, while PNG’s render really nice with transparency, boilerplate drawing code makes it extremely diffucult to do anything cool looking animation wise without a lot of scripting; either a quick and dirty “git r done” mentality, or a “create an animation engine” endeavor.
Either way, they have a pretty cool, and lasting community. While I think the system requirements will put a lot of people off (Windows 2000/XP only, must have .NET 1.1 runtime installed), it’s still a great place to get inspiration from, and see a comparison of how different scripting languages are written to do the same thing if you read the developer documentation.
Developing this way certainly makes you appreciate Flash.