Lowering Complexity

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2008-03-11 Print this article Print

John Resig, an AJAX developer and creator of the jQuery JavaScript library, said Jaxer "is a really exciting development platform. They give you the power of the client-side-HTML and JavaScript-to build the server-side portion of your Web application. Providing this full development environment within a single, easy-to-use container hasn't been achieved before, so it'll be fun to see what people do with it."

Meanwhile, Aptana released a plug-in to support AIR (Adobe Integrated Runtime) with Aptana Studio, the company's IDE (integrated development environment) for building rich Internet applications and Web 2.0 applications.

"You can build AIR apps using Jaxer, all in AJAX," Colton said.

Aptana also has built an iPhone plug-in to enable developers to use Aptana Studio to build iPhone applications.

Colton said he is unsure what kind of demand to expect for the Jaxer technology. "It's like asking how much demand would there be for Velcro before it was invented. Now it's here and people love it."

Alex Russell, an AJAX developer and co-creator of the Dojo Toolkit, an AJAX development framework, said Aptana has "a winner on their hands [with Jaxer], although the caveats about scope and state persistence work across the boundary may confuse some folks who are deeply acquainted with JavaScript as a language at first."

A key benefit of Jaxer is that it lowers the complexity of AJAX development, Russell said.

Today, developers have to think about a Web page as being in a couple of different states in terms of server processing, and "Jaxer has the potential to reduce the number of 'states' you are thinking about-and places [in which] you're looking for code-when working on client/server interactions," he said.

"Today, it's very much like PHP+DOM, which is really pretty powerful stuff. We're going to be bringing Dojo's port of Django's excellent templating language to bear inside of Jaxer, and I think that may highlight Jaxer's Achilles' Heel: other server-side environments have vast libraries of language and environment provided APIs, whereas Jaxer is, in many ways, starting from scratch on that front."

Django is a Python-based development framework.

Being able to leverage JavaScript toolkits like Dojo in that environment may help somewhat, Russell said. "But those toolkits were developed for a different environment and the answers that they bring to bear probably only cover 50 or 60 percent of the standard-library problem. Jaxer will be more competitive when it can effectively grow its standard library and provide a way to pull in library modules easily," he said.

Colton said Aptana has filed 28 patents on various components of Jaxer.

"Jaxer is great," said Ben Galbraith, co-founder of Ajaxian.com. "Since AJAX first achieved popularity, many of us have been wondering when end-to-end JavaScript would emerge-the ability to write your server-side and client-side code in JavaScript. With Jaxer, it has arrived, and with style."

Darryl K. Taft covers the development tools and developer-related issues beat from his office in Baltimore. He has more than 10 years of experience in the business and is always looking for the next scoop. Taft is a member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and was named 'one of the most active middleware reporters in the world' by The Middleware Co. He also has his own card in the 'Who's Who in Enterprise Java' deck.

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