Google Revs GWT and Gears

Google updates two developer-focused tools, Google Gears and Google Web Toolkit.

Google has updated a couple of its developer-oriented tools, the Google Web Toolkit for creating Web applications and Google Gears technology for enabling offline access to services.

Google announced the release of GWT 1.4, which enables Java developers to build Web applications without getting into the gobbledygook of AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML) development.

Google Web Toolkit is an open source project that helps Java developers harness the richness of AJAX in a cross-platform, Web-friendly environment, said Bruce Johnson and Dan Peterson, two developers on the GWT team at Google, in a blog post.

"The magic trick is that GWT cross-compiles Java source code into stand-alone JavaScript that you can include in any Web page. Instead of spending time becoming JavaScript gurus and fighting browser quirks, developers using GWT spend time productively coding and de-bugging in the robust Java programming language, using their existing Java tools and expertise," Johnson and Peterson said. "Naturally, GWT is also a great way to easily take advantage of the latest-and-greatest Google APIs and browser enhancements, such as Google Gears."

Google officials said GWT 1.4 simplifies debugging and features a compilation-based approach to AJAX that rewards developers for good software engineering practices. Johnson and Peterson said Java source code that is clear and organized can be easily optimized by the GWT compiler, "which is a nice antidote to the frequent hack-and-slash approach thats all too common in JavaScript development."


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Moreover, "As your application grows, the GWT compiler begins to pay off in even bigger ways," Johnson and Peterson said in their blog. "Unused code is automatically removed so that scripts are smaller and pages load faster. Complex code can be automatically coalesced and simplified. Most importantly, because the Java language is statically typed, many common errors can be caught during development rather than production."

Meanwhile, Google also has released version 0.2 of its Gears technology. Google Gears 0.2 is a developer release. "Before we update end-user machines, we want to get API feedback from you, the developer community," said Chris Prince, a member of the Gears team at Google.

New features in Gears 0.2 include cross-origin API support, which enables developers to get around the strict same-origin security model and allow applications or mashups to affect Gears re-sources in other origins—such as to read or write to a database in another origin, capture a set of URLs from an-other origin or access future Gears APIs in another origin.

Other new features in Gears 0.2 include a new HttpRequest module and a new Timer module that implements the Web Hypertext Application Technology Working Groups Timer specification.

"This is the same timer API that is traditionally available in browsers on the window object," said Dion Almaer, a Google engineer in the Google Developer Programs unit.


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