Morfik tests browser boundaries - builds Javascript chess app

Morfik is a next generation web development platform and their main product is called 'WebOS AppsBuilder'. How far can browser based apps be taken?

Morfik is a next generation web development platform and their main product is called 'WebOS AppsBuilder'. How far can browser based apps be taken? It's described as a "a specialized IDE for building web-based applications". The apps that people are beginning to build with Morfik are pushing the edges of what can run on current browsers. One example Fuad Ta'eed from Morfik showed me recently is a chess app that is implemented using Javascript. Fuad explained the reasoning behind it to me:

"All the sample applications, including the Chess program, have been developed using the AppsBuilder visual designer and a high level language - Java, C#, Basic or Pascal. There is NO hand coding of JavaScript, or use of code snippets etc. It is all compiled into JavaScript for applications running in the browser and native code for the server. We are very keen to see if there is any limit to what can be achieved in the browser using this methodology, i.e. we are treating the browser as platform. It has been pointed out that “The smart developer isn't one who knows how to implement it [JavaScript], but one who knows where and when to implement it”. Of course the smart developer also needs to know what the limits are empirically and not subjectively and we are searching for these boundaries."
(emphasis mine)

The chess engine was developed with WebOS AppsBuilder, using Object Pascal. It's then compiled into JavaScript / HTML and run in the browser. Fuad says it is able to compute at least 2 moves deep - "we believe this is the world’s first implementation of a chess engine in JavaScript."



Morfik has already drummed up some passionate users for their technology (one emailed me separately with a glowing report) - and they are looking for more. Fuad told me that want to attract more developers to help them build out the Chess program (the source code is open), "to see how far browser based applications can be taken in the area of raw computing."

Although the chess program is very slick, I didn't at first grok the depths of the technology - so I asked Fuad to explain more. He firstly told me that Morfik has many Rich Internet App (RIA) attributes:

"If you look at Morfik you will see a Rich Internet Application which looks and feels like a website. It does many of things which AJAX developers have been dreaming about; however there is an aspect which is ground-breaking, in the area of page-layout. Simply put Morfik resolves the paradox of fixed vs. liquid layout. This means you could have forms within forms within forms and dynamically manipulate them at run time. This is something which is not attempted in win32 or other RIA such as Flash. Our website already demonstrates some aspects of this."

He then gave me more info on the 'browser as computing platform' angle:

"There have been a number of comments already made that the browser was never intended to act as a computing platform - it is basically a render/manage a rich user interface, as proven by the number of web 2.0 applications that only use it in that context. We are demonstrating through the chess application that this is a limited view of what the browser can do, even given today's JavaScript browser performance limitations."

Morfik is currently developing specific applications of this type of advanced browser technology for commercial clients. But over the next few months they will also continue to build other 'concept' applications, to demonstrate more aspects of what a browser can do if pushed. All of the concept apps will be open source.

Morfik looks to me to be an exciting new browser-based technology and platform. The concept code is open source, which Morfik hopes will attract developers. I'll certainly be exploring more about it in future posts, but for now go and check it out yourself - and let me know whether you think it succeeds in extending the boundaries of what a browser can do.