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Coding web apps with hazelnut chocolate

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As Steve Jobs goes out of his way to badmouth Adobe Flash and keep it off both the iPhone and the iPad, Apple is developing its own Flash alternative.

Citing tweets from a developer who viewed a demo of the technology, AppleInsider reports that Steve Jobs and company are developing a standards-based framework for building rich internet applications (RIAs). They call it Gianduia, after, um, an Italian hazelnut chocolate.

Apple demoed the technology last summer at World of WebObjects Developer Conference (WOWODC), an independent conference meant to coincide with Apple's own Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC). And as Appleinsider tells it, a developer who calls himself Jonathan "Wolf" Rentzsch outed the demo with a post to Twitter. "[Gianduia] essentially is browser-side Cocoa (including CoreData) + WebObjects, written in JavaScript by non-js-haters," he tweeted. "Jaw dropped."

Cocoa is Apple's object-oriented programming environment for the Mac, the iPhone, the iPod touch, and the iPad, and WebObjects is its web application framework. "Blown away by Gianduia," the Wolf said in another tweet. "Cappuccino, SproutCore and JavascriptMVC have serious competition. Serious."

SproutCore is an existing Apple-founded open source project for building web apps - the company uses it for MobileMe apps - while Cappucino and JavascriptMVC are entirely independent projects (JavascripyMVC is also open source).

According to Appleinsider, Apple's retail arm has already used Gianduia to build several web-based applications, including the app for its One-to-One program, the iPhone reservation system, and the Concierge service that takes reservations for its in-store "Genius Bars" and Personal Shopping program.

The report stresses that unlike Flash, Gianduia is based on web standards. In his on-going verbal war on Flash, Steve Jobs has criticized the platform for being "100% proprietary," saying - with a certain amount of irony - that all web standards should be "open."

"Rather than use Flash, Apple has adopted HTML5, CSS and JavaScript – all open standards," he said in his infamous "Thoughts on Flash" letter. "Apple’s mobile devices all ship with high performance, low power implementations of these open standards. HTML5, the new web standard that has been adopted by Apple, Google and many others, lets web developers create advanced graphics, typography, animations and transitions without relying on third party browser plug-ins (like Flash)."

It would be easy to applaud Jobs for backing opening standards, but this is part of a larger agenda. He's also intent of preventing developers from using a technology like Flash to build native applications for the iPhone and iPad. He doesn't want the devices running applications crossed compiled to run on hardware he didn't build. He wants iPhone developers using Apple development tools - and nothing else.

Plus, his commitment to open standards goes only so far. For web video, Apple uses the patented H.264 codec, not the open and license-free Ogg Theora. Jobs has even go so far as to throw FUD at open source codecs, claiming that unspecified people are putting together a patent pool to "go after" Ogg.

Like Microsoft, Apple is one of the patent licensors behind the H.264 codec, which means the company gets money when it's used. ®

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