AJAX Survey Shows Trend Toward Consolidation

A survey on Ajaxian.com indicates that despite a growing number of AJAX frameworks, developers appear to be consolidating around a handful of leading frameworks.

Ajaxian.com, a Web community focused on Asynchronous JavaScript and XML-style development issues, has released its second annual survey, which indicates that open-source frameworks are most popular with developers.

The survey, which polled 865 participants, showed that the Prototype AJAX framework was most popular among respondents, with 43 percent of developers saying they preferred it over others.

Next was Script.aculo.us with 33 percent, the Dojo Toolkit with 19 percent, and DWR (Direct Web Remoting) with 12 percent, rounding out the top four slots.

Richard Monson-Haefel, a senior analyst with Midvale, Utah-based Burton Group, prepared the survey for Ajaxian.

The survey allowed for multiple responses per participant.

Meanwhile, completing the list of results, 11 percent of the respondents said they liked the Moo.fx framework, jQuery had 7 percent, Yahoo UI (Yahoo User Interface Library) had 5 percent, and Rico brought in 5 percent.

After that Mochikit, XAJAX and Microsofts Atlas toolkit—recently renamed to ASP.NET 2.0 AJAX Extensions—each had 4 percent.

And Googles relatively new GWT (Google Web Kit) came in last with 3 percent of developers polled saying they preferred it.

Monson-Haefel said one thing that he found interesting about the survey results "is that distribution of usage has consolidated since last year while the number of framework has expanded.

"In 2005 when we ran the survey Prototype, Script.aculo.us, Dojo, and DWR were the top choices among AJAX users in production systems. The same is true this year, except that a larger segment of the population is using these top frameworks."

Indeed, Monson-Haefel pointed out that in October 2005, 41 percent of the respondents said they used Prototype, Dojo, Script.aculo.us or DWR.

Yet, when the survey was repeated in September 2006, that figure had risen to 63 percent.

"So while the number of frameworks expanded from about four dozen in October of 2005 to about 160—thats a multiple of more than three times; the usage increased in the top frameworks and generally decreased everywhere else, Monson-Haefel said.

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Moreover, "The long tail, when it comes to AJAX frameworks, is getting much longer and much thinner," he said.

"This suggests that despite the growth in the number of frameworks available, usage continues to consolidate around three or four AJAX frameworks: Prototype, Dojo, Script.aculo.us and DWR."

Meanwhile, Dion Almaer, London-based co-founder of Ajaxian.com, said, "People are favoring simple tools such as Prototype/Script.aculo.us. Prototype and Script.aculo.us are being used across the server side (e.g. not just Rails, but PHP, Java, etc.)."

For his part, Almaer said he expected to see a better showing from GWT given the buzz that came out with the technology.

"I am interested to see if GWT moves up in the ranks next time around," he said.

Meanwhile, the Ajaxian survey also got results on what developers considered their favorite server-side platform.

PHP was the clear winner in this category, with 50 percent of the responses.

Java was second at 37 percent, .Net had 16 percent, Ruby on Rails had 14 percent, Python had 6 percent, and ColdFusion and Perl both had 5 percent.

And between 2 percent and 4 percent are using Adobes Flex in some way, the survey results showed.

In addition, the survey showed that a quarter of the developers polled said they do not use any kind of AJAX framework, but instead work with XMLHttpRequest directly.

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