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Yahoo! Releases OSS Ajax and Design Tools 164

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the hey-we-should-check-those-out dept.
Cocteaustin writes "Today Yahoo! released the Yahoo! User Interface Library. This library is comprised of a number of dynamic HTML utilities and controls for building rich web UIs and Ajax applications. They are made available under an open-source license. In addition, Yahoo! released the Yahoo! Design Pattern Library. This collection of design patterns for Web interaction is intended to provide Web designers prescriptive guidance to help solve common design problems on the Web. Both are free in both senses of the word."
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Yahoo! Releases OSS Ajax and Design Tools

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  • by gd23ka (324741)
    awesomely generous. Hope there are no patent string attached.
    • by AKAImBatman (238306) <akaimbatman.gmail@com> on Tuesday February 14, 2006 @10:46AM (#14715722) Homepage Journal
      I seriously doubt that there are any real patents or other strings attached. I think this is more of a publicity and goodwill stunt more than anything else. As far as I can tell, there are no sophisticated components here, just the basic stuff that most AJAX developers already have in their toolkits.

      The list of components is:

      * Calendar
      * Slider
      * TreeView

      That's a pretty small list, and all are components that are fairly common in AJAX circles.

      The core utilities portion of the library is just Yahoo's convenience methods that help abstract away browser differences. Nice if you don't have wrappers like these already, but not very useful if you do. Many AJAX programmers will probably choose to stick with their own libraries.

      A few things that come to mind that are missing from this library are:

      * A text editor components
      * DataGrid/Spreadsheet component
      * Scrolling viewports
      * Feature-rich DHTML replacements for buttons, lists, radio buttons, and other common controls.
      * Application layout engine

      I'm pretty sure that Yahoo! has these types of components, but isn't going to share as long as there is more value in keeping them secret.

      All in all, it's a nice gesture by Yahoo!. Just don't expect a complete library. :-)
      • by Anonymous Coward
        Actually some of the components are very sophisticated indeed. The drag and drop library is the best I've seen - it can handly logical groups of related elements, point intersection or area overlay modes, "padding" for drag detection areas, configurable drag triggers settings and more.
        • Like I said, if you don't have it in your library already, it's a nice thing to have. If you do, then it's probably so much noise.
          • This library probably wasn't released for the benefit of those already waist-deep in AJAX / Javascript-UI-Niceness... I'm guessing if you already have a very complex drag-and-drop piece of code in your library, nothing that was released today would be any help...

            That said, I think it's positively wonderful! The hard part of web design isn't usually the design, but convincing the clients that a certain technology is OK to use. It's even harder when you're working in Microsoft land, and everyone knows you're
      • by Gopal.V (532678) on Tuesday February 14, 2006 @11:26AM (#14716005) Homepage Journal
        The important peices are *NOT* about widgets. This is about the ygPos,ygAnim and ygDom libraries which are invaluable to most people (at least me).
        The animation systems are actually pretty awesome [dotgnu.info]. The cacheTween() functionality in there takes it very close to what I've been doing with flash previously.

        Morover, Y! has been using these for the past 6 months on different browsers before they open sourced. That part is really what most people look at.

  • by Teetow (603838) on Tuesday February 14, 2006 @10:20AM (#14715551)
    So, while Google is expanding its new evil empire, Yahoo is courting indie developers? Strange days on planet earth...
    • more like, they are both competing for us to use their products. no matter what, we don't lose in the end. as long as the tools are free, i don't see a problem
    • Truly strange. The first product from Yahoo I have ever wished Google came out with first... earily freaky...
    • by m50d (797211) on Tuesday February 14, 2006 @10:39AM (#14715671) Homepage Journal
      Yahoo has always been like this, it's just people didn't notice while google was the new hotness. Seriously, they seem to be doing the Right Thing, and it's about time they got some recognition.
      • by stupidfoo (836212) on Tuesday February 14, 2006 @10:55AM (#14715779)
        Very true. Their developer APIs are the best of any major offering.

        Check them out here [yahoo.net]

        Their stated goal is to have startups use their APIs as the foundation for new sites/tech.
        • Their developer APIs are the best of any major offering.

          That was interesting. Thanks for the link. It looks like yahoo is using [yahoo.net] JSON [json.org] for their wire protocol. I find that to be interesting for two reasons. The first is that it is not an XML based protocol. The second reason is that JSON is also the wire protocol for the ironically named AJAX.NET [schwarz-interactive.de].

          I wonder who else is developing JSON based APIs and if that is going to be the next big thing?

        • Very true. Their developer APIs are the best of any major offering.

          Not really. Have you ever looked at their ads API [yahoo.com]? It can't even bgein to compare to what Google offers [google.com].

          It takes about 90 seconds to sign up and start getting access to advertising data via Google's API. It's SOAP, so pretty much every programming language besides BASIC and Forth are supported. Google has loads of documentation online regarding their ad API program. And it's free. You get to do what you want with the data that you g

          • Ok. So it doesn't have an ad api that's up to snuff. That still doesn't negate my point that, overall, they have the best offering.
            • Well, I was taking each API they offer on its own. The Yahoo mapping/travel planning offering might be the best of the bunch, but the ads one definitely isn't. I suppose if you grouped them all together Yahoo would come out on top.

              I guess it depends on what's important from a developer/business point of view. A lot of money can be managed via an ads API. Having one vs. not having one can make a huge difference in ad spending for some organizations (SEMs, especially). But if you're a web developer lo

  • Really good stuff (Score:3, Informative)

    by Vivek Jishtu (905067) on Tuesday February 14, 2006 @10:20AM (#14715556) Homepage Journal
    I tried out some of the JavaScript code they are offering. It is a nice library of functions for web application development.
    • "I tried out some of the JavaScript code they are offering. It is a nice library of functions for web application development."

      Really good stuff (Score:3, Informative)

      Oh, well. Slashdot is based in what people thinks it's informative or not, but if people can't tell if something is informative or not, then moderation isn't useful.
  • show me the money (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Douglas Simmons (628988) on Tuesday February 14, 2006 @10:24AM (#14715576) Homepage
    With google's toys they all have mass appeal and drive traffic to the site, ultimately helping google's brokerage. This, while nice for some of us, doesn't. Why would Yahoo bother?
    • by generic-man (33649) on Tuesday February 14, 2006 @10:37AM (#14715657) Homepage Journal
      Because they want to improve their image in the open source community, making people think better of Yahoo! when it comes time to choose between Yahoo!, Google, and Brand X for their next enterprise service purchase. I also imagine that they could release code in the future that makes it easy to incorporate Yahoo!'s ad technology so that Web 2.0 developers can contextually-advertise and make money from their efforts.

      Google's acts of "driving people to its site" do nothing for Google's bottom line. Google, like Yahoo!, is an advertising company which makes the vast majority of its income from other web sites besides their search engines / portals.
      • Re:show me the money (Score:3, Informative)

        by Ilgaz (86384)
        Large portion of FreeBSD and Opensource respect from industry (and end users) came from Yahoo.

        When people questioned seriousness of that OS, you could (and still) say "Yahoo runs on it". Conversation is over. :)

        I have no idea why Google is "good guy" and Yahoo gets amazing misinformed comments on each story. They even called Yahoo "wannabe" when they advertised (existing for years) http://search.yahoo.com/ [yahoo.com]

        (robots.txt exclusion, it exists at least since 1999 if you look to archive.org)
      • "Google's acts of "driving people to its site" do nothing for Google's bottom line. Google, like Yahoo!, is an advertising company..."

        You contradicted yourself. Driving people to their site is how Google generates advertising revenue (maybe not all of it, but enough to impact thier "bottom line"). You didn't think all those ads on the right of your search results were free, did you?
        • Google makes a ton of money from AdSense ads on other web pages as well. According to their 2004 annual report [sec.gov] (warning: tiny fonts and huge amounts of text) page 26, in 2004 Google made 48% of its overall revenues from web sites outside its own domain ("Google Network web sites") versus 52% of its overall revenues from AdWords on its own domain. OK, I exaggerated when I said it "does nothing for Google's bottom line," but advertising on Google's own properties might not grow as much when you compare thei
  • by us7892 (655683) on Tuesday February 14, 2006 @10:25AM (#14715583) Homepage
    Both pages are clear and the library actually looks very good. Usually, Yahoo is playing catch up to Google, or so it has seemed. This time, Yahoo gets the upper hand. Google is becoming Yahoo, and Yahoo is becoming what Google used to be. Good stuff!

    Not that any of this is ground-breaking, but it is a nice little package.

    Makes Google's download package from last month look pretty lame.
  • by digitaldc (879047) * on Tuesday February 14, 2006 @10:26AM (#14715587)
    The Yahoo UIL page [yahoo.net] and the Google Code [google.com] pages are both useful and coincidentally look quite similar.
  • BSD license (Score:3, Informative)

    by Rob T Firefly (844560) on Tuesday February 14, 2006 @10:29AM (#14715602) Homepage Journal
    Yahoo are releasing this stuff under the BSD License [yahoo.net].
  • by BarryNorton (778694) on Tuesday February 14, 2006 @10:30AM (#14715612)
    When it's a UI idiom...
  • Nice Accessibility (Score:4, Insightful)

    by aliens (90441) on Tuesday February 14, 2006 @10:40AM (#14715676) Homepage Journal
    If you look through their Design Patterns you'll see that each has an Accessibility section. Very nice addition and often over looked.

  • This is good to see. Reuse for GUI widgets is one area where reuse has had an impact, in fact, GUI widgets are the most commonly reused components. There are a number of vendors for things like VB controls.

    The components and patterns Yahoo has released will speed up the development of feature rich sites for other organizations.
  • by esconsult1 (203878) on Tuesday February 14, 2006 @10:46AM (#14715724) Homepage Journal
    After using prototype.js [conio.net] for a while now, its hard to switch to a fatter library which is what the Yahoo library seems like. Each one has their good points, and pieces missing, but I think if you decide to use either, you can't go wrong.

    There are some good snippets in there though, and Yahoo has done a good job of introducing code and web services to the developer community, much much more that Google has.

    The design patterns are a very very good thing to expose. Although many of us might have been using similar standards, it sort of brings a number of them under one umbrella and into one place.

    • by at_18 (224304)
      Prototype may rock, but the website (http://prototype.conio.net) sucks. It's only a page with a download link. So WTF is prototype? Where's the manual, or at least a quick overview of what it does? Not even the .tar.gz file with the library has anything resembling a function list.

      I had to google around to find documentation, such as this site [sergiopereira.com]).
    • Umm,

      Where is the tree widget for Prototype again? OMG there is none!

      Prototype has some nice features and allows for OO like programming in Javascript. But it mangles the Javascript Object and the OO design promotes code bloat.

      Anyone doing any serious DHTML should check out JQuery (http://jquery.com/ [jquery.com]), it's a revolutionary lightweight Javascript library that borrows the niceties of Prototype but allows you to achive the same result in a fraction of the code. You can also use it with Prototype, and it weighs
    • Prototype has some serious issues, it messes around with basic javascript datastructures, has no namespaces, reserves often used names and keywords $ for instance for itself Many people switched from prototype to dojo exactly for those reasons.
  • Hurrah! Clap-clap! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by SilentOneNCW (943611)
    I say, good show! As early comments have already noted it is indeed a strange month - in which Google is falling, losing popularity due to their stock prices and the whole China debacle, while Yahoo is rising, supporting OSS with a suprisingly useful package. I wonder if this is merely another bump in Google's ultimate victory or a shift in the paradigm, a potentially fatal one for Google. However, let this not take away from the original point of the article -- Congratulations, Yahoo!, and thank you. Your
  • by rtilghman (736281) on Tuesday February 14, 2006 @10:48AM (#14715740)

    This is a collection of, count em, THREE main scripts folks. There are free libraries of javascript code out there with orders of magnitude more DHTML functions and scripts. Sure, Yahoo offers some derivatives of each of their primary functions, but one of the categories is a collection of "vented menuing" scripts that could have been written five years ago. Only a multi-national company bent on branding (and yes Google, you're in the same boad) could put up a page like that and call it a Library.

    To be honest, I'm consistently frustrated by the status of OSS code with regard to the DHTML components necessary to support open source RIA technology. If you want to do a vented menu, have a slider control, or YADDA you can find about 450 million scripts scattered across the javascript repositories of the web.

    What it comes down to is this; if you want to do a collapsible menu or drag and drop then you're in luck, we have the widgets in OSS for you! OSS RIA won't be feasible until SVG stabilizes and is as ubiquitous as the Flash plug-in.

    -rt
    • by AKAImBatman (238306) <akaimbatman.gmail@com> on Tuesday February 14, 2006 @11:01AM (#14715824) Homepage Journal
      "Library", are you kidding me?

      Indeed. Most of the posters obviously didn't do much investigation, or are not that familiar with AJAX development. This is the same stuff you've been able to get elsewhere for a LONG time. The Blueshoes [blueshoes.org] and ActiveWidget [activewidgets.com] collections are a lot more useful, albeit not entirely free.

      To be honest, I'm consistently frustrated by the status of OSS code with regard to the DHTML components necessary to support open source RIA technology.

      It's because the market is still young. For right now there's money to be made in DHTML controls. As long as that's true, programmers aren't going to be giving stuff away. (Hell, I've got my stash of super-secret components, and I'm willing to bet that you do too.) Once components become more commonplace, OSS libraries will begin appearing.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 14, 2006 @11:11AM (#14715879)
      I take it you haven't actually downloaded the code then. There are libraries for animation, DOM manipulation, drag and drop, XMLHttpRequest management and event handling (in addition to the slider, treeview and calendar widgets). That's 30 JS files, not including the examples. That's nearly 10,000 lines of code!

      It's fully documented as well.
    • OSS RIA won't be feasible until SVG stabilizes and is as ubiquitous as the Flash plug-in.

      I.e. never. SVG has no reference implementations, so in a comparison I saw recently, 10 different SVG "compliant" renderers renders the same content in 10 different ways.

      SVG is just a vector engine slapped on top of HTML/CSS and JS. Flash has audio, video, sockets, it has JavaScript 2.0 JIT compiler (coming in a couple of months) with true OOP and it's hella fast.

      Flash has advanced authoring environment for bu
  • Oddly enough I was putting breadcrumbs into a client's site when this story came up and I was just thinking "Jesus, breadcrumbs are a total waste of screen space. Why the hell do clients ask for them?" On the other hand, I've yet to find a use for Yahoo! either. Oh, well.

    TWW

    • Jesus, breadcrumbs are a total waste of screen space. Why the hell do clients ask for them?

      Poorly implemented breadcrumbs are a waste of screen space. Well implemented breadcrumbs are an invaluable navigation tool. They help users track where they are in a given subsection, and help give the user a feel for the overall tree structure of the site. They also improve navigation by allowing the user to reach any level above the current one quickly and easily.

      For example, say I'm shopping for a new laptop. I mig
      • While this is well and good, most implementations I've seen are not a site heirarchy as you list, but rather a replacement for the back button. Many times it's a throwback to when the back button would break most apps. One your Bell site, you might be at the Demented X page, but your crumbs show:

        Store >> Computers >> Desktops >> Store >> Specials >> Store >> Laptops >> Bell Demented X

        And this is actual requested behavior! I'd agree that site navigation tools

        • The closest thing I've EVER seen to that is progrees indicators for web shopping carts, and that is mainly there to show you how far you've gotten in the process.

          In fact, I'd go as far as to say that what you've described isn't breadcrumbs at all, which were really another way of displaying a "file path" style view of where you are on heirarchical sites, such as web forums or stores with categories like the GP suggested. That they are clickable is a bonus feature taken from file managers that added that.
        • Do you have an example for that claim? I've never seen anyone do that.
      • If I want to compare with other models, those breadcrumbs help me navigate to other laptops without going through the front page and the entire heirarchy.

        I just press Alt-left-arrow and pick a different link; I don't even have to move my hand to the mouse.

        Breadcrumbs are an indication that a site is badly designed (or that the PHB/client has seen them somewhere and thinks all "professional" sites have to have them).

        TWW

        • * AKAImBatman thwacks nagora upside the head

          The back button doesn't work if you land directly on the page. Breadcrumbs also provide information to the user about their location independent from the ability to move to those locations. Pay attention, young padewon.
        • Breadcrumbs are an indication that a site is badly designed (or that the PHB/client has seen them somewhere and thinks all "professional" sites have to have them).

          This sounds like the writing of someone who doesn't have a very large userbase for their site, or doesn't much care about providing the best browsing experience for those users. When you're designing a public website, you're aiming to minimize the amount of confusion that may occur on the part of your users. You want to make things easier for

          • This sounds like the writing of someone who doesn't have a very large userbase for their site, or doesn't much care about providing the best browsing experience for those users.

            Help! Help! I'm being attacked by a usability-fad-of-the-month nazi!

            TWW

  • Oblig. Grinch (Score:1, Insightful)

    I for one welcome the new script (overlords), but I can't help myself (oh, and I tried) but point out that because of the nature of the technology (client side jscript) then there isn't actually a good way *not* to release the source code for re-use, at least for the Beer part.

    Now I do think Yahoo has done a smart thing in doing this under a BSD license, but it's worth remembering that this might be because they don't really have a way to protect their IP anyway. You can muss up script to be less readable,
    • I for one welcome the new script (overlords), but I can't help myself (oh, and I tried) but point out that because of the nature of the technology (client side jscript) then there isn't actually a good way *not* to release the source code for re-use, at least for the Beer part.

      Yes there is: It's called copyrights and patents. You can easily have your ass handed to you on a courtroom plate if you try to rip off someone else's JavaScript. Make sure you have permission before you start stealing code from other
      • That's not really a good way to not-release-the-source. It's a rather bad one, really. You need to track down the offenders and take them to court (hope they're not overseas!) and there's always the risk of some random using it somewhere or modifying it in a way so you can't detect it...

        A good way to not-release-the-source is some sort of binary distribution that cannot be trivially decompiled. To some extent, you can obfuscate your JavaScript pretty well with various tools that are out there, but if it's m

        • A good way to not-release-the-source is some sort of binary distribution that cannot be trivially decompiled.

          No such thing exists anymore. Even complex C/C++ programs can be decomplied quite easily. It's just that people feel more exposed with JavaScript because the code is distributed in source form. Try a packer/obfuscator like this one [edwards.name] instead. The code can still be extracted by someone smart enough, but it does put a barrier in their way.
  • by slashkitty (21637) on Tuesday February 14, 2006 @11:23AM (#14715966) Homepage
    It breaks things on webpages and is really pissing me of on their my.yahoo.com site. If you don't need to drag and drop things, why have them? If you don't need to open a page in a new window, why do it? I'm starting to really hate some of this AJAX stuff.
    • I hate the blink tag too, but don't knock HTML, I just want to go on a rampage and kill the developer and everyone involved in the site. The moral of the story is, blame the developers, not the framework/language. AJAX has some great ideas. It'll take time to mature, though!
  • by ursabear (818651) on Tuesday February 14, 2006 @11:27AM (#14716014) Homepage Journal
    I sincerely appreciate the comments of those who know (much more than me) about web UI, techniques, technologies, and patterns. As a server-side engineer and developer, I don't spend a lot of time on the front end. It's nice to see how /.ers digest this type of information and re-present it from lots of angles.

    With that said, I'd also like to say that the pages are pretty well done. It is obvious that a great deal of time and effort was spent conceiving, writing, and, producing these beginnings of libraries and instructions. I found the effort to be commendable and interesting.

    For someone like me, these types of efforts actually help me understand quicker and keep me interested.
  • The UI Controls all looked nice and worked very well in Firefox 1.5.
    Unless there's a Grand Hatch (tm) that we've all overlooked, I'll start using this right away*!

    So, thanks Yahoo.

    *) In this particular comment, "right away" is defined as "tomorrow, or any other time I feel like checking it out".
  • .. Then I would not have created my own client side calendar.

    I think my calendar is easier to use. And mine creates the div and checks to see if it already exists.

    Someone now needs a UI Design tool that allows people to easyly integrate these into a design WYSIWYG mode.

    Calendar foo = new Calendar('your_id');

  • Opera Users... (Score:2, Informative)

    by Egataes (944474)
    ...can't access a number of Yahoo! pages (nearly anything apart from their search page) due to a browswer restriction on Yahoo's end. I wonder if this extends to their other material.
  • Design Tools? Bah. Real men code by hand!
  • Looks like at least the slider examples all work in Firefox, Safari, and Opera for me. This is great news!

    I think a standard JS widget library is a definite good thing, and with a company like Yahoo behind it it will probably get more developer awareness and traction with the business folks too than what's been available up to this point from smaller developers.

    BSD licensed too, so it's free in any sense of the word for any use (good for us half-commercial folks ;)).
  • Damn... ust after I had reverse-engineered and commented Google Suggest [google.com]

    You think I kid.
  • Isn't this great ? Yahoo! are giving us Free! Code!

    Pity about the reporters they've shopped to the Chinese... They're probably quite uncomfortable right now. But hey, Free! Code!

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