WebORB vs FluorineFx

10 03 2008

Updated: September 30, 2008

So, it starts to get interesting here.

I’m noticing some of the sames and some of the stark differences between WebORB, the commercial yet free .NET Flash Remoting tool and FluorineFx, the open source alternative.

To summarise thus far:

Both:

  • Have a Console feature which allows you to see all the classes you are exposing to the remoting client and invoke them.
  • Work with VS2008 (I have only tested the .NET 2.0 framework) and Flex 3.
  • Have a Windows Service feature that allow you to deploy it alongside your AIR application for better client-side functionality (though by nature that must limit them to Windows deployments, no?)

WebORB: (v3.5 for .NET)

  • Is a free product, but commercially owned and closed source.
  • The licensing allows the software to be used in every scenario except redistribution.
  • Has a very comprehensive Console app that handles security on all namespace/class/method levels very nicely.
  • Has very useful codegen tools within the Console to get you going – both for AS and C#/VB.NET.
  • Has reasonable documentation to go along with it (it is still quite lacking in content and organisation)
  • Has a database tool in the Console (WDML) that essentially takes your DB structure and creates a C# or VB.NET Solution interfacing to all tables/views/stored procs. Also creates AS classes to interface with this data.
  • Exposes all of the DLL to the user. However, there is the option in .config file to turn on “closed” method which means you need to turn each service/method you want.
  • Uses a yahoo mail group to communicate between the developers and the users. The support is helpful to a point… they don’t answer every single question on there, but do answer the crux of them generally.

FluorineFx: (v.1.0.0.13 for .NET)

  • Has a Console app also, but with much less functionality than WebORB
  • Has significant multi-framework (Cairngorm, PureMVC, etc) style actionscript codegen.
  • Has documentation but is seriously lacking in examples. Not easy for new users to understand where to go once it’s working.
  • Has a specific implementation of DataSets and DataTables that is not as intuitive as WebORB. A DataTable for example has the “serverInfo” property which when expanded reveals a cursor, the list of columns and the list of data.
  • Has a nice project setup wizard in Visual Studio.
  • Security support for services must all be done manually in the configuration files.
  • Uses C# Attributes to expose classes as Services. (use [RemotingService(“Fluorine sample service”)] above the class definition.
  • Uses a mailing list for communication, and generally everyone is very helpful.
  • Can and will provide quick additions to the code and SVN releases of new versions based on requests/issues in the mailing list.
  • It’s Open Source, so you can actually learn the ins and outs of AMF and remoting. And, if you’re not happy, get in there and modify the code.

I appreciate both products but feel there needs to be a serious overview of documentation, as I’ve read through both and still find myself not 100% sure about the whole system.

Personally, I think Adobe have something to answer for here. I know they are pushing Blaze and I understand that Java-based Blaze is cross-platform and complies to Adobe’s needs… But seriously, C# and Visual Studio are an amazing partnership in developing software, and I won’t give up developing server-side code in them until something as good as it comes out (fingers crossed that Mono keeps plugging away).

I would like to see Adobe step up into this market and help everyone out, because, let’s face it, Flex and AIR don’t meet their potential until they are hooked up into a server-side component.

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28 responses

11 03 2008
FredAtMicrosoft

Thanks for the help on the decision!

———————————————-
Fred Reckling
Microsoft 2008 Joint Launch Team
http://www.microsoft.com/2008jointlaunch/

15 04 2008
JTtheGeek

As an experienced developer with both WebORB starting back when it was flashORB and Fluorine, and FluorineFX I can tell you that WebORB kicks Fluorine around the block all over the place if your willing to Pony up the $10,000/CPU for Orb Enterprise. FluorineFX does however do a great job and honestly the ability to work with the source has been an absolute blessing. There is however a trick :-P. WebORB runs in development mode free, so you can easily build everything and use WebORB to do developement using all its fancy UI’s, service browsers, code generations and such, then at the last minute swap for Fluorine and save yourself a mountain of money. My biggest gripe with Fluorine is their mailing list… Why are open source projects even allowed to be ran with no way to easily search a mailing archive like weborb’s yahoo group.

All that aside they are both amazing… C# + Flex/Air = F*ing awesome!

15 04 2008
Justin J. Moses

JT,

WebORB is now completely free. The Enterprise edition. It happened a month or so back.

Check their website: the Midnight Coders

Justin

14 11 2009
David Yen

No, it is not free. Please don’t be cheated. Only the development version is free. Enterprise version is not free.
Community version was “said to be free” but only allow to run on one server. Which company is willing to risk your assest in one server?

15 12 2010
JTtheGeek

If you need more than 1 server using WebORB than you are obviously making enough money to afford the enterprise license and professional AWESOME support. Mark Philler of WebORB is a effing genious and their support is fantastic. I believe their new pricing model is fantastic! It’s free for your first server to get your business launched and profitable, one you start to do so well you need to scale out then you can afford to pay them for their amazing product. Or, you could chance it and run your mission critical application on a open source product with horrible documentation, no searchable forum, no built in support for clustering, and no real professional support. Use WebORB guys.

17 04 2008
Flash, Flex, Air » Remoting: WebORB vs FluorineFx

[…] В продолжение темы о Remoting’e. Для приложений, использующих в качестве серверной части .NET, есть два отличных framework’a – бесплатный* WebORB и open-source FluorineFx. Justin J. Moses, попробовав оба, написал хорошую сравнительную статью. […]

29 04 2008
realapak

just writting to say that i don’t have any problems with datatables and fluorinefx… And the bless of open source that let’s me keeping modifying the code as i like or need… it’s a great tool…. Besides that weborb became free because of good and free flash remoting tools, am i right?

30 04 2008
Justin J. Moses

Realapak,

I don’t know if Adobe might not have had a hand in asking the Midnight Coders (TMC) to open up WebORB for the general public. The reason being that even though Adobe are pushing Blaze, their solution to the Flash Remoting situation (J2EE), there are still plenty of .NET developers who want a strong and steady solution.

Weborb is being pushed as an Enterprise solution, with businesses guided towards purchasing support plans to make the product profitable for TMC, and fair enough. My personal opinion is that currently, Weborb is a more developed tool than FluorineFx, though as you mentioned, a developer gains a lot with an open-source model.

I look forward to a time when Fluorine competes a bit more thoroughly with WebORB, and, as I see it, the main areas to be improved are:
1. Documentation (seriously lacking, and especially since there is little web support of these products)
2. Virtual Objects – when I last implemented fluorine, I was having issues getting my more complicated objects across.

cheers,
justin

19 06 2008
JTtheGeek

Check their licensing agreements, It is free to use for internal tools, but not free at all to use for commercial applications. FluorineFx still save’s the day, but I do commend midnight coders for their amazing work, WebORB is amazing.

“”Production Use” means using the Software in YOUR application for internal business purposes only which may include third party customers’ access to or use of such applications. Production Use does NOT include the right to reproduce the Software for sublicensing, resale, or distribution, including without limitation, operation on a time sharing or service bureau basis, distributing or using the Software as part of any ASP, VAR, OEM, distributor or reseller arrangement unless (1) there is a special arrangement between YOU and the LICENSOR or (2) YOU have a support plan in an active state that allows such use.”

19 06 2008
JTtheGeek

Hmm, actually now I’m wondering…. Can we actually deploy this to end clients environments?

1 09 2008
name

Hello!,

16 09 2008
geeman

I have been using FlourineFX for about a week and think it is awesome! I am an old Flash 4 -> CS3 & .NET developer and had to code Flash interaction with ASP pages to get any real functionality from my Flash sites. I also agree, Flash + FlourineFX + C# + SQL 2005 + salesforce.com + google API = AMAZING STUFF!!!

13 12 2008
Kathleen Erickson

Hi,

Thought I’d stop in and try to clear up any questions about our licensing. WebORB is available as a FREE Community Edition and also an Enterprise Edition. The Enterprise Edition is not free. WebORB can be used for your internal and external facing applications (this includes SaaS). Redistribution is not allowed under the standard licensing agreement. It is allowed under our OEM/ISV license agreement. One thing that gets confusing for consulting firms and independent software developers who develop custom applications for a single client is whether or not deployment to a single customer would be considered “redistribution”. We do not consider that scenario to be a form of “redistribution”. Instead, we view you, the developer, as if you were a developer in your customer’s organization. Having said that, we really try to encourage enterprise companies to purchase an enterprise subscription if their application requires any of the advanced features and benefits provided in WebORB Enterprise Edition. To support you, we now have a Partner Program (not yet posted on our website) that goes waaaaaayyyyyyyyyy beyond the help you get in the forum. 😉

Some other new things you guys may not be aware of is that we now have a WebORB Messaging SDK, PDF Generator and just released a new version of WebORB for .NET that includes support for Silverlight and Visual Studio templates.

I hope this helps clear up any confusion about our licensing policy. Feel free to contact me directly about any of this information.

Cheers,
Kathleen

30 06 2009
him_aeng

Hi Mr. Kathleen

I have only one question.
Where is WebORB Community Edition? I only found Enterprise Edition in development mode on midnightcoder site.

When I installed WebOrb for .NET in my machine, I saw the WebORB logo and (Development Mode (limited to 5 IP Addresses).

How can I fix it or it something that you forgot to remove from product web console?

Thank you

15 12 2010
JTtheGeek

You need to contact WebORB to receive a community edition. It’s not very difficult and they just ask some cursory questions about your operation.

30 06 2009
Justin J. Moses

Him,

First off, I’m pretty sure Kathleen is a woman.

Secondly, you probably should contact WebORB yourself on kathleen *at* themidnightcoders *dot* com.

justin

30 06 2009
him_aeng

OOP! Sorry.

And thank you for your reply Justin.

But do you know the answer for my question?

1 07 2009
Justin J. Moses

Actually, I’m not 100% sure, but I believe that the Enterprise Edition is the same as the Community Edition but with a regular support plan from The Midnight Coders.

I believe the “Development Edition” string on the WebORB console is old and out of date, and that it is actually the Community Edition.

j

1 07 2009
him_aeng

Thank you.

But because that “STRING”, I decided turn to FluorineFX and discover some feature that WebOrb for .NET did not provided. Such as Spring integration sample, call RPC using Windows service in AIR etc.

So I thing I fall in love with FluorineFX.

1 07 2009
Justin J. Moses

FluorineFx is a great solution, no doubt about it – and the guys are very supportive and helpful. Make sure you get on their mailing list so you can ask any questions you might have.

Best of luck with your work.

j

1 07 2009
him_aeng

Thank you again.

27 08 2009
Harry

Justin,
thanks for your review.
I’m a .NET dev just starting out w/ Flash/Flex. I understand WebORB and Fluorine install as services on your dev box, to function as an endpoint for remoting, which is fine. But what about deployment? How easy is it to find ASP.NET hosts that have support for these 2 frameworks?
Thanks for your input.

15 12 2010
JTtheGeek

WebORB is generally not deployed as a service, it’s just a referenced dll in the web project and gets deployed as that dll. Add a few handlers to your web config, and a weborb.config and your good to go.

27 08 2009
Justin J. Moses

@Harry,

Very easy. You don’t need to install either FluorineFx or WebORB on the actual server, you simply deploy the ASP.NET host that comes when you setup a WebORB or FluorineFx project on your Dev box. The only thing is that you may need to set permissions on folders within your ASP.NET website that are writable by the IIS AppPool that runs the application.

However, it sounds like you’re looking for shared hosting. For something like this, I’d recommend either a VPS or dedicated host, that way you can remote desktop in, and make any changes you require, rather than dealing with a locked down share. You’ll just need to ensure the host has the .NET framework installed (depending on your version – 2 or 3.5).

cheers,
justin

25 12 2009
Matt

Don’t be fooled by Midnight Coders marketing. WebOrb is NOT free for enterprise deployment (which is really why you would want it.)

Don’t get me wrong – it’s a fine product, but some of their marketing is very deceptive.

I spent a fair amount of time figuring this out until it was almost too late on a project, and I wouldn’t want to see anyone else repeat that mistake.

-Matt

3 01 2010
Dudi

Hi Guys,

Since this post is almost 2 years old, do you have any updates on this comparison?
I would like to use WebOrb since I need something for production env.
However, in contrast to what I see here I like FlourineFx documentation and development SDK, much much better (maybe this is their main imporvmant since the version covered here)?

Also, did any of you managed to do performance tests for these solutions?

Justin – I can’t agree more with your final words, How it comes that Adobe provide an awesome Java solutions but nothing for the .NET community?

Thanks,

Dudi

4 01 2010
Justin J. Moses

@Dudi, I haven’t done any performance testing, but I’ve heard (in early 2009) from other people that WebORB has it easily over FluorineFx.

The good thing about FluorineFx is that it is open source, and the guys in the community are really lovely.

WebORB does have a Community Edition, which you can obtain a license from them for free. However, having gone down this road myself for an ex-employer in mid 2009, I can tell you that they are looking to get subscriptions as well, and weren’t as forthcoming with the Community license until I had sorted a paid solution first (for another product). That said, there are tonnes of features that the Midnight Coders have put in there that you just won’t get with FluorineFx. And, their console is second to none.

Now I have talked to various people at Adobe over the last year and from all accounts, Flash Builder 4.X will eventually have .NET AMF built in. Eventually. It could be as late as Flash Builder 5, who knows? Still, it would be a big kick in the teeth to Silverlight if Adobe could produce a slick solution to .NET remoting out of the box.

Justin

15 12 2010
JTtheGeek

Justin, would you every really trust Adobe’s implementation? I’m not convinced their engineers know how to write performance optimized code…. it’s almost 2011 and we still don’t even have threading. Flash Builder has abysmal performance, and most of the Flex Framework is so bad they are being forced to rewrite the whole damn thing over again in Hero to accomodate for the fact that maybe it’s not a good idea to have the entire screen redraw itself on every render loop irregardless of any display tree changes. Let’s not even get into the AdvancedDataGrid issues. If your serious about making a professional .net + flex application I honestly believe their is no alternative to WebORB.

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