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Open Laszlo 3.x vs Open Laszlo Legals: About that tablecloth...

Jim Grandy wrote

the magician yanks the tablecloth out from under the place settings for an elegant meal, leaving the wine glasses and candlesticks in their places, unperturbed. A neat trick, but even better would be to replace the tablecloth with a new one, all without touching the candelabra or the crystal goblets. I’m not usually given to hyperbole, but with our latest Legals snapshot, PR3, we are nearing the end of a process that feels a lot like replacing the tablecloth.
Developers have started looking at the preview releases, and they're noticing that not only is the DHTML runtime incomplete, but the swf runtime has major regressions. "What's with all these regressions? Isn't that a bad indicator of code quality? Is the next version of Open Laszlo going to be worse than the current one?"
Well... I can see how this is worrisome. Let me offer this adjustment to Jim Grandy's analogy: Legals doesn't just replace the tablecloth; Legals sends the chef to culinary academy. The chef comes back from culinary academy, and changes the sautée pans, the waiters' uniforms, the produce supplier, and the actual furniture... but he leaves the menu the same. And, yes, he keeps the same silverware and china. That nasty ceviche appetizer is made with tuna instead of snapper, and the house salad uses butter lettuce and hothouse tomatoes instead of iceberg and cherry tomatoes.
What I'm trying to say here, while perhaps pushing the analogy too far, is that Legals changes the compiler and the Laszlo Foundation Classes. A lot. We refactored the Laszlo Foundation Classes into the runtime-independent parts and the runtime-dependent parts. In 3.x, the LFC code assumed that it was executing in a flash runtime. The 3.x LFC wasn't shy about reaching down to touch the flash movieclip directly. Legals inserts a portability layer between the LFC and runtime-dependent code; we call this portability layer the kernel. Everywhere that LFC code, components, and examples assume a flash runtime needs to be refactored to call the kernel API. So, you see, just about every line of the LFC has changed, even for the swf runtime. All that change was bound to cause regressions and introduce new bugs.
Here's the good news: we're software engineers with a track record of shipping solid software. We manifest our commitment to high-quality software by fixing bugs properly not just expeditiously. This stage right now is the right time for fundamental architectural changes and thorough discussion and investigation thereof. We have a large set of unit and integration tests, which we run, and ever-improving tools for tracking, assigning, reviewing, and fixing bugs. At any given time, several team members are devoted full-time to either increasing test coverage, improving test tools, or fixing known bugs.
When you sit down to eat at the new restaurant before opening night, the table might wobble, and there might be too much cayenne in the chili. But we're fixing the table by switching to a three-legged design, not just shoving a wad of napkin under one leg. We switched to venison and buffalo chili, so we're fine-tuning the spices with every batch we cook. We're working hard on getting it all back to solid and tasty, and we won't open the kitchen until taste-testers have approved every dish.

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