Open Ajax Project Promotes Common Tools

IBM Corp. and a dozen software, media and open source companies have agreed to collaborate in an Ajax project to develop common tools. (Courtesy: TechWeb)

February 3, 2006

3 Min Read
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IBM Corp. and a dozen software, media, and open source companies have agreed to collaborate on an Ajax project to develop common tools. Developers will have the ability to create high-quality user interfaces for browsers without plug-ins.

Open Ajax will create one framework to standardize development and debugging on a common library for multiple Ajax runtimes. "The wake-up call to the industry came last year with Google Maps, which gives you high-quality maps and client-side maneuverability," said David Boloker, chief technology officer of Emerging Technology at IBM, on Thursday. "The technology has matured."

Boloker pointed out that Ajax is an early technology, but core pieces became standard years ago. The industry just created a different way of programming to the browser using HTML and JavaScript. Open Ajax framework supports run times from Dynamic HTML known as Dojo DHTML to JavaScript OpenRico to Zimbra, such as Zimlet APIs.

Ajax, short for Asynchronous JavaScript and XML, is a type of "Rich Internet Application." Others participating in Open Ajax includes BEA, Borland, Dojo Foundation, Eclipse Foundation, Google, Laszlo Systems, Mozilla, Novell, Openwave, Oracle, Red Hat, Yahoo, Zend and Zimbra.

Similar to IBM, Oracle Corp. has worked with Ajax-related technology for more than two years. Ajax is used to build collaborative applications for employees, but it's also being tapped for Fusion, Oracle's next generation enterprise resource planning (ERP) platform. "We provide a set of Java-server faces components to the e-business group that is building the next generation of Fusion applications," said Ted Farrell, chief architect and vice president of tools and middleware for Oracle. "We have set of them that render out to HTML in a browser. We've made an Ajax render kit on top of the application development framework components that comply with the standard."Although Ajax has seen rapid "grass roots" adoption, major vendors really haven't stepped up to support the cause, said Richard Monson-Haefel, senior analyst Burton Group, a research firm. "Having these companies behind Ajax will put pressure on the browser vendors to be more consistent in their support," he said.

And industry consolidation is expected. Monson-Haefel said even open source can't support 48 Ajax implementations. "It's easy to see which of those will survive from a study we did last year," he said.

In a survey of 488 developers using Ajax professionally, the Burton Group found Prototype proved the most popular with 26.6 percent. Script.aculo.us owns about 19.5 percent of the market; DWR, 14.8 percent; and Dojo, 11.1 percent. The remainder came in at 10 percent or less. "Most developers are using multiple libraries," Monson-Haefel said.

IBM said it has contributed software to the Eclipse Foundation and Mozilla that will allow developers to create and debug an Ajax application. The proposed Eclipse Ajax toolkit framework is the first approach that supports multiple Ajax runtime toolkits.

Similarly, Zimbra, which has been developing Ajax applications for two years, is making available Ajax runtime toolkit under Apache and Mozilla public licenses. The runtime toolkit provides an object-oriented JavaScript class library with a standard set of widgets, an event framework, and communication tools.0

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