Started in the late 1990s by prominent Web and development technologists, Curl is a relative old-timer in the rich Internet applications arena. The Curl platform comprises essentially two components: the Surge run-time environment and the Surge Lab IDE (integrated development environment). In our tests, we found Curl Client/Web Platform 3.0, which was released last month, to be a fairly mature and very capable platform for creating and deploying rich Internet applications. The Surge Lab IDE includes a text editor interface and a visual editor, as well as hierarchical views for managing individual Curl files and development projects. Both editors include all the tools one would expect, including smart-code completion, drag-and-drop form and interface creation, and a debugger.The Curl language should be simple for any developer to learn, but other products use common languages. We were impressed with the common-sense macro capability in Curl as well as its ability to tie in to almost any data source. A new feature in Version 3.0 made it possible to handle data access and database connections directly from the visual editor. Curl works well with XML and Web services, and we found it to be easy to integrate our applications with any Web service and to build XML and Simple Object Access Protocol awareness into our applications. Like all rich Internet application environments, Curl requires users to have its run-time client to run Curl applications. Although the Surge run-time client for Curl is fairly lightweight and easy to install, it is also the platforms main weakness. Currently, Version 3.0 runs only on Windows systems, although it works with Netscape/Mozilla in addition to IE. There is no Mac OS run-time client for Curl and only a preview Linux version based on the previous version of Curl. (A beta of a new Linux version is expected in the near future.) On the plus side, companies can customize the options and configurations of the run-time client to meet their needs. Curl applications can be easily deployed from any Web server through standard links. To deploy the applications, companies will need a license file that is also deployed to the server. For Curl applications deployed within a company, licensing starts at $10,000 for up to 100 users, with volume options based on the number of users and applications. See eWEEK Labs review of another rich Internet application, DreamFactory Enterprise 6.0. eWEEK Labs Director Jim Rapoza can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Still, although the IDE for Curl is decent, it is not one of the products strong points and probably ranks below most other rich Internet application environments in terms of usability. But Curl does have a lot of strength in its extensibility.