Ample SDK: Browser-in-a-Browser

Ajaxian » Front Page by Ben Galbraith 1 day ago

Sergey Ilinsky, formerly of Ajax pioneer Backbase, has created a new Ajax toolkit called Ample SDK. The best way to describe Ample SDK is that it’s a browser-within-a-browser, but not in the visual sense. Rather, it aims to implement in JavaScript the stack of rendering technologies typically delegated to the browser. For example, Ample currently lets you use Mozilla’s XUL to create cross-browser applications.

Here’s an example of how you could use Ample SDK to render a XUL interface in the browser:

<body>
    <!-- other HTML code -->
    <script type="text/javascript">ample.open()</script>
<xul:menulist xmlns:xul="http://www.mozilla.org/keymaster/gatekeeper/there.is.only.xul">
    <xul:menupopup id="items-popup">
        <xul:menuitem label="Item 0" value="0"/>
        <xul:menuitem label="Item 1" value="1"/>
        <xul:menuitem label="Item 2" value="2"/>
    </xul:menupopup>
</xul:menulist>
    <script type="text/javascript">ample.close()</script>
    <!-- other HTML code -->
</body>

(Sorry for the old-school, ugly <pre> above–our code formatter chokes on XML namespaces, used in the XUL elements above.)

The Ample SDK compatibility table, shown above, gives you a sense of the scope of the project: to implement technologies like XUL, SVG, HTML 5, XHTML, and so forth, all in JavaScript–and render them across modern and legacy browsers like IE 5.5.

Ample even takes over CSS parsing:

HTML:

  1. <style type=« text/ample+css »>
  2. b {
  3. color: red;
  4. }
  5. </style>

Check out the examples and documentation at the site. Note that Ample is not (yet) open-source but is free for non-commercial projects.

When Brendan Eich first hinted several years ago that the browsers would get fast, it spurred a lot of folks to wondering whether the future of feature innovation would be primarily in the JavaScript library space, and the browsers would focus on being JavaScript run-times and graphics abstract layers.

Ample SDK raises the question anew. Should we push the rendering layer to JavaScript libraries? What do you think?

And, what do you think of Ample?

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