Hemlock, a new open-source framework for building real time web apps in Flash with an XMPP back-end has been released by MintDigital, a development shop in London and New York. Real time apps that use efficient methods of communicating information between the browser and the server are all the rage these days. Now Flash developers will have an easy way to get in the game.
Hemlock joins services like Notify.me (our review), Urban Airship (our review) and others in offering developers a way to get hip to the real-time, just like the big guys at Facebook, Twitter, etc. Some of these implementations are open source, like Hemlock, and some are not. It's clear though that the developer world is ready for some real time technology to build on.
The good people of YCombinator's HackerNews surfaced Hemlock first and are having a good conversation about its pros and cons in comments there. On the up side, it's open source and already has a nice little gallery of implementations to consider: a collaborative drawing app, a fantasy soccer game and a ridiculous keyboard dance video game.
On the downside, it's just for Flash. Flash is more than popular enough, though, so we suspect this will fill a real need. Given that it's open source, forking the code to tie the XMPP part to other interface methods doesn't seem unlikely either.
If you'd like a refresher on the basics of the real time web, check out our Intro to The Real Time Web.