Product Reviews

Curl and Surge 2.0

You may have seen Curl go by about four years ago, when this next-generation Web language started to make some news. Originating at MIT in 1995, the language has evolved to a development platform with a reasonably rich IDE and a dedicated runtime. Now they're targeting enterprise use with what they call their client/web development platform.

Curl was designed to include text, layout, scripting, and object-oriented programming in one language. As such, though you'll find many familiar-seeming bits, you'll also have to learn new syntax and APIs throughout. The payoff is the ability to deploy rich applications over the web quickly. After the runtime is installed, Curl programs are Just In Time compiled on the client. The only communication with the server is to download new chunks of code (objects can be downloaded on an as-needed basis) or data. The runtime supplies services including text formatting, 2D and 3D graphics. XML processing, all the usual user interface widgets, security, and so on.

The Curl folks have some whizbang demos, including a nice EIS they developed for Siemens, that show off the formatting capabilities of hte language. They're also talking quite a bit about using Curl as the ideal client-side piece for Web services. But you have to take a hard look to decide whether learning a whole new programming environment is worth these benefits. Fortunately, you can do that inexpensively; you can download a full version from their Web site and test drive it yourself. If you do decide to rollout, the starter kit (which lets you do a small-scale deployment) is $2500, and ISV pricing starts at $15,000. There's also no code for non-commercial applications -- a way for them to try to get the runtime widely deployed.

If you're at the point of evaluating choices like J2EE and .NET and Macromedia's projects for a large-scale rich intranet or Internet application, you should probably throw Curl into the mix for a look.

[This review originally appeared in

About the Author

Mike Gunderloy, MCSE, MCSD, MCDBA, is a former MCP columnist and the author of numerous development books.

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