Themes in GWT

As a Google junky, we tend to prefer Google products over competitors if we can help it. Therefore when faced with a need to learn a website creation package preferably based in Java, we inevitably learned to use GWT. GWT is a brilliant software which allows you to write web apps with the ease of Java and many of its libraries, and compile them into fast, obfuscated, and optimised Javascript for every browser. Google Wave runs on GWT. Unfortunately, the real brilliance of the toolkit lies in the compiler and the development tools and hooks. Unfortunately, they have completely neglected the CSS skinning of the toolkit, and generally leave it up to developers to hire their own CSS designers. There are only 3 primary themes built into the toolkit, and they all look amateurish. Instantiations makes a tool, GWT Designer, which allows WYSIWYG manipulation to help design GWT based pages. This can speed in basic layout development and simple colour and font manipulations, but you pay for it with awkward, ugly, and verbose Java code you then have to manually clean up later. If you know Java and the GWT library well, it is almost worth it just to skip GWT Designer entirely. That said, we fully respect and have been impressed by the features of GWT Designer.

To help developers make compelling apps and websites and perhaps to stimulate interest in GWT, we encourage Google to devote more resources to design, themes, and templates for GWT. What do other GWT developers think?


Verizon Skype

Yesterday Verizon started a new promotion to allow free Skype-to-Skype calling on its Smartphones, sending and receiving. On Android, this is possible with the new and improved Skype Mobile App. Verizon actually enables this through its voice network rather than over the datafeed, allowing good integration with Bluetooth devices and much higher fidelity of communication. Skype is a closed source, proprietary P2P voice protocol and unless that changes, it is probably a dead-end company. However, with sponsorship and special privilege from large telecoms, Skype perhaps has a new lease on life against the coming existential threat from the refactoring of Gizmo5 with Google Voice. In conclusion, if you have a Verizon smartphone or communicate regularly with someone who has a Verizon smartphone, consider using Skype.