Dojo 1.1 Refines AJAX Development

The Dojo Foundation releases an upgrade of the popular AJAX toolkit.

The Dojo Foundation is releasing version 1.1 of the Dojo Toolkit, a major revision of the popular AJAX development framework that delivers more than 800 improvements and bug fixes over version 1.0.

In a blog post on March 28, Peter Higgins, the official Dojo community evangelist, said of Dojo 1.1: "There were two goals: preserve API compatibility and continue to innovate."

Dojo is an open source DHTML toolkit written in JavaScript. According to a description of the Dojo Toolkit on the toolkit's Web site, it's designed to enable developers to build dynamic capabilities into Web pages and other environments that support JavaScript.

Higgins said that for Dojo 1.1, more than 30 core developers and committers and "countless numbers of new community contributions" came together to work "for the good of open source, to make available to you a high-quality DHTML Toolkit, free of charge and free of restrictions."

He highlighted a number of the new features, adding that "while all this great new stuff has landed in Dojo since 1.0, we've still managed to maintain near perfect API compatibility."

Meanwhile, Alex Russell, co-creator of and project lead for the Dojo Toolkit, told eWEEK that what stands out most about the new version are "ease of use, polish and better and better ways to access and visualize your data." In addition to being co-creator of Dojo, Russell is director of research and development at SitePen, a Web application development, training and support firm that employs several key committers and contributors to Dojo.

Russell said Dojo has "always had amazing infrastructure for building an optimizing rich Web applications for serious use and 1.1 extends that infrastructure and combines it with great-looking themes, better support for laying out components in a page and more support for talking to data sources of every variety."

Moreover, he said the Dojo build tools now work with the toolkit's improved theme architecture to make it simpler to customize the look and feel of an application while still ensuring great performance. As a result of those improvements, Dojo 1.1 also has new high-quality themes that expand the creative options for designers and provide more options for CSS (Cascading Style Sheets)-based customization, he said.

Dojo 1.1 also enables multiple versions of Dojo to run alongside each other, and even allows the developer to rename "dojo" in their application to something else, which eases the burden for developers upgrading from previous versions or using Dojo in a portal environment, Russell said.

Meanwhile, Dojo 1.1 features an expanded set of data access "drivers" that build on the toolkit's unified data access system to enable widgets to visualize different kinds of data without changes to the widgets or lots of application- specific data adapter code, he said.

"There's been this tension between SOAP [Simple Object Access Protocol]-style RPC [Remote Procedure Call] endpoints, REST [Representational State Transfer]-style request/response architectures, and -dumb client' solutions where servers spit out snippets of HTML in response to AJAX requests," Russell said. However, " takes a broad, CRUD [Create, Read, Update, and Delete]-based view and allows you to interface visual components with all of these strategies via a unified API. Dojo 1.1 adds simpler ways to handle REST-style back-ends, quickly visualize Atom-encoded data, and build interfaces with JSON [JavaScript Object Notation]-formatted information using a simple query language ... all through a uniform API."