Developers preparing for battle on any new platform are likely to have a predictable choice of weapons.
Any technology thats had time to become at all established will typically offer a mix of low-level tools, platform-tailored environments, component libraries and full-blown abstractions that package the details for greater convenience.
In the year (almost) since the AJAX label emerged, toolmakers have brought forth all these options.
Tools for that language are growing in sophistication as the language is used in more ambitious projects.
Antechinus productivity features vie with those of any high-end integrated environment, with dynamic code completion and many features aimed at working with large code files.
Vendors of established development environments arent ignoring the AJAX charge.
A December release of an Atlas site template for Microsofts Visual Studio 2005 is available at msdn.microsoft. com/asp.net/info/future.
Microsofts position is that AJAX is a new name for an idea thats been around at least as long as the companys Outlook Web access client, but the "rocket scientist" complexity of AJAX (in the phrase of Microsoft Platform Strategy Manager Charles Fitzgerald) will prevent its broad contagion without the help of well-engineered libraries and tools.
The company certainly has a winning track record in tools, and its also seeking to engage the AJAX community with an unusually open process for bringing Atlas to market.
Tellingly, the obvious power of AJAX techniques has changed the tone of Microsoft gurus, from their previous disparagement of Web applications to their growing acknowledgment that such applications have useful strengths for many tasks.
Other vendors use AJAX-like mechanisms within well-packaged client development environments, as seen in TIBCO General Interface from TIBCO Software Inc.
This drag-and-drop development environment is itself a striking demonstration of just how interactive a Web-based application can now be.
Mozilla developers, meanwhile, hope that AJAX can dethrone Internet Explorer from its long-standing dominance of rich Web applications.
AJAX development tips and links for standards-based browsers, including innovative debugging aids, are at developer. mozilla.org/en/docs/AJAX.
Sun Microsystems Inc. likewise hopes to get off the defensive, after years of promoting relatively complex Java client development against the component-based ease of Microsofts Visual Basic.
Suns Java Studio Creator 2, soon to be in general release as a free download, offers developers impressive convenience in building and sharing AJAX-based components as well as other JavaServer Faces components.
Suns extensible environment and component library tools let developers incorporate client- and server-side functionality into applications with minimal effort.
Technology Editor Peter Coffee can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.