DENG 2.0

DENG 1.0 has been around for a long time now (almost three years), and there hasn’t been any new code release for quite a while, so some of you might wonder what we’ve been up to, and what the plans are.

We started developing DENG in difficult times. DotCom had just crashed hard, and demand for XForms renderers was low (the W3C XForms WG was still working on it). It was very hard to find contributors as most Flash developers generally disliked everything the W3C produced, and the proprietary nature of Macromedia products made it hard for people outside of the Macromedia world to join such a project. Also, it was nearly impossible to get funding. Nevertheless, we worked hard to make DENG a reality, found a few contributors who saw the potential, and even had a bit of funding (well, at least enough to pay the rent for a while).

A big up goes to Stefano Debenedetti, who was working on a Flash XHTML/CSS renderer for Benetton at the same time i was working on DENG. He quit his day job just a few weeks after we made first contact to come from Italy to Germany for a few months to join the core team and work on DENG fulltime. He eventually implemented the DENG XForms module, as well as an experimental SMIL module.

After we got DENG 1.0 out the door, open source, and with a lot of features (significant subsets of CSS3, XHTML, XForms, SVG, XFrames, etc), we started an open discussion about the future of DENG. The Flash Player 7 was released by Macromedia, introducing Actionscript 2 (an ECMAScript 4 implementation), but not much more that would be relevant for DENG. We thought about porting DENG to Actionscript 2, even wrote some proof of concept modules (Jim Cheng did a DOM implementation, i ported the DENG CSS parser etc).

The UGO initiative was given birth, at first as an attempt to develop an open source framework for the Flash Player. UGO was drawing the attention of quite some developers (both Flash and non-Flash), and some very interesting discussions were going on. The UGO initiative today focuses on providing reliable standards support on ECMAScript-like platforms and is an ongoing project. Current results are a deployment system, a module loader and a non-Flash, ECMAScript XForms implementation for current browsers, developed by Stefano, who luckily found a new employer (Dreamlab) being very pro open source and open standards and actually made all this possible.

I was very busy the last year, working on commercial Flash projects (and I still am). I also moved to Brazil some months ago, and currently am in progress of setting up a company here, so time was very limited thus far to work on DENG or UGO. I feel very bad for that, but unfortunately this was necessary.

With the Flash Player 8 on the horizon, i am now going to catch up with the development of DENG, and push it to version 2.0.

DENG 2.0 will be targeted for Flash Player 8. That means that the current code base will be completely refactored and DENG will leverage all the new features that are going to be introduced by the new Player (many of the new features are not yet published by Macromedia, but some are, like big improvements in drawing API and performance) – along with features developed in the UGO initiative (standards compliant API).

I have high expectations. I am working towards 100% compliance of XForms, SVG Tiny and CSS3 and as much of XHTML compliance as possible, with a strong focus on CSS3 and XForms.

Please contact me at claus at in case you want to contribute code (although it will take some time yet for code contributors to be able to join as the Flash Player 8 is not released yet) or in case you are looking for an open source, zero install, pure clientside, lightweight, modular renderer of XForms, XHTML, SVG etc (you name it) with CSS3. I also haven’t given up hope to get decent funding for that project, in order to make this a fulltime job again, either for me, or for other contributors. Thanks.

UGO and DENG on InfoWorld

InfoWorld has a five-page article online today, featuring a review of three XForms engines (DENG, Orbeon Integration Suite and PureEdge 8x Suite 2.6)

DENG is a marvelously clever client-side implementation of XForms — clever because it’s crafted largely in Flash, with a touch of ECMAScript. This means virtually any browser that supports Flash Player 6 (or better) can run DENG.

The article also includes a summary on UGO, a project devoted to help provide reliable standards support on all ECMAScript-like platforms like current web browsers or the Flash Player:

The beneficiary of this effort will be the user community. UGO is entirely open source. In addition, UGO will retain DENG’s wide deployment capability. For example, not only will you be able to deploy UGO in any browser implementing ECMAScript 3, but UGO will also run atop Macromedia’s Flash Player.