Helpful to Designers

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2008-10-20 Print this article Print

Meanwhile, said Scott Fegette, product manager in Adobe's Creative Solutions Business Unit, said Adobe has done a lot of work with the OpenAjax Alliance, particularly the IDE working group. "And we learned that widgets were design patterns that designers were using and not just developers."

So, Fegette said, "We helped the group evolve the OpenAjax format. We built a rich extensibility model based on JavaScript, as we were already familiar with JavaScript." Fegette added that one of the most exciting things about working with the OpenAjax Alliance "was getting broad input from the industry -- from folks like Aptana and Microsoft's Visual Studio team and others who are passionate about the work. It's been fantastic to work with a group that's equally passionate about this as we are."

"With the recently launched Adobe DreamWeaver CS4, Adobe's goal was to take the mystery out of AJAX development, and give our customers a rapid and intuitive way to incorporate Web Widgets into their projects," Fegette said. "That's why we used OpenAjax Metadata as DreamWeaver's native format for defining AJAX widgets - so our customers could easily take advantage of widgets from a variety of third-party developers to enhance their designs."

The OpenAjax Alliance is an organization of vendors, open-source projects and companies using AJAX that are dedicated to the successful adoption of open and interoperable AJAX-based Web technologies. OpenAjax members include more than 100 organizations including Adobe, the Eclipse Foundation, Google, IBM and Microsoft working towards the mutual goal of accelerating customer success with AJAX. The prime objective of the group is to accelerate customer success with AJAX by promoting a customer's ability to mix and match solutions from AJAX technology providers and to help drive the future of the AJAX ecosystem. To learn more about OpenAjax Alliance, please visit:

The AJAX industry today has several popular IDEs and hundreds of useful AJAX libraries, but integration of AJAX libraries into AJAX tools has been a largely library-by-library manual process for the tool vendors. As a result, AJAX tools only provide strong code assist and interactive-help features for a highly restricted set of AJAX libraries, and have difficulty maintaining compatibility with new AJAX library releases.

To solve this integration problem, OpenAjax Alliance has developed an industry standard XML format, OpenAjax Metadata, which describes the JavaScript APIs and widgets found in AJAX libraries, Ferraiolo said. This standard will allow arbitrary AJAX tools to work with arbitrary AJAX libraries so that the tools can provide intelligent code assist, interactive help, and drag and drop visual editing using AJAX widgets.

"The OAA Metadata specification is a huge win for AJAX," said Kevin Hakman, chair of IDE Working Group and director of Evangelism, Aptana.  "With the dominant majority of all leading IDEs having contributed to the specification and having pledged to support it, soon anyone creating AJAX libraries or widgets and describing those with the OAA Metadata can be assured to have broad compatibility with a vast array of tools -- and developers will be able to further ease and accelerate their projects that include AJAX." 

"Aptana is pleased to have contributed to this milestone specification for the API metadata, much of which was derived from the open-source ScriptDoc format from Aptana," said Lori Hylan-Cho, AJAX wrangler, Aptana. "This means that Aptana's ability to interpret the OAA metadata and use it to boost AJAX developers' productivity in Aptana Studio has been a breeze. We are excited that there's now a robust non-proprietary way to describe AJAX libraries and widgets in a consistent manner, which benefits tools, library and widget developers, and ultimately all JavaScript developers, who can look forward to improved code hinting and widget management in their IDEs."

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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