AJAX, Java DB a High-Octane Match

Opinion: The Apache Derby open-source database, a hot embedded database, is going to make a world of difference to the AJAX community now that Sun has rolled out its Java DB derivation.

The AJAX community is dubbing Java DB open-source database a crucial next step for this hot new Web development language.

AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML) is all about a rich client experience using JavaScript and XML Web services from the client-side.

For its part, Java DB, a distribution of the Apache Derby open-source embedded database, like all databases, is server-side.

Putting the two together is where the magic happens, as was demonstrated during a keynote at the Apache Software Foundations ApacheCon in San Diego on Tuesday.

During the keynote, Tim Bray, director of Web Technologies at Sun and XML specification co-editor, said that Sun was incorporating the open-source Java DB into the Sun Java Enterprise System and providing additional support for the database with the NetBeans IDE (integrated development environment) 5.0 plug-in.

Ted Leung, a member of the ASF (Apache Software Foundation) who works at the OSAF (Open Source Applications Foundation), wrote on his blog that this introduction of a database with the rich functionality of Apache saved him from wandering the ApacheCon halls in a jaded daze.

"I was disappointed when [Bray] said that he was going to make a product announcement, and I was unenthusiastic when the announcement turned out to be about a Sun version of Derby," Leung wrote.

That all changed about a minute into the demo by Francois Orsini, an engineer at Sun, Leung said. Orsini is a long-time engineer for Cloudscape—the IBM-donated database from which Derby derives—and works on Derby at Sun.

The demo that changed Leungs mind showed how Derby can be used as a local store for Firefox. Orsini showed Derby running within a Firefox window.

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The demo displayed a simple tax form application. Orsini showed how a user could fill in a form, quit or crash the browser, and have the data returned upon restarting the Web application, thus allowing temporarily disconnected use of a database by a browser-based application.

"Adam Bosworth has previously written about the need for local synchronizable storage for the Web browser, and I know that the Mozilla folks have been investigating embedding SQLite, for just these sort of reasons," Leung wrote.

"That effort is slated for Mozilla 1.5 or later. It seems to me that what Francois has done is to make that capability available today. I spent some time talking with Francois over lunch, and it turns out that he also has some code that wraps Derby in a way that is AJAX-friendly, which means that AJAX applications can do similar tricks without needing [to] use the embedded Java support.

Next Page: A cool combination.