Java Experts Predict AJAX Will Be Huge

Java gurus at TheServerSide Java Symposium agree that AJAX is the next big thing for building Web applications.

LAS VEGAS—AJAX was all the rage at TheServerSide Java Symposium here, as keynoters and panelist offered predictions and expectations for the future of development on the Java platform.

Cedric Beust, an engineer at Google, said: "I think all the pieces are there on the server side. But I think well get a whole new ecosystem around AJAX [Asynchronous JavaScript and XML]. Its like a bad cold. More and more people are coming to this thing and we have a whole new excitement for Web sites we never had before, with things like mashups."

Beust, who was invited onstage by Geir Magnusson, a member of the Apache Software Foundation and responsible for architecture for Intels Middleware Products Division, as part of Magnussons keynote, described AJAX as "SOA [service-oriented architecture] for the client. Were trying to pick up several services and put them on the client."

James Strachan, chief architect and co-founder of LogicBlaze, said, "AJAX is going to make a huge difference on how we build Web apps. AJAX and POJOs [plain old java objects] are the two biggies for building Web apps."

Patrick Linskey, an engineer at BEA Systems and former chief technology officer at SolarMetric (which was acquired by BEA), predicted that "somebody will come up with a meaningful way to wire up a server-side AJAX framework with a non-browser-based client-side app."

/zimages/1/28571.gifClick here to read about IBMs open AJAX initiative.

However, one member of the audience objected to the AJAX hype, as he called it. In fact, an impromptu poll of attendees showed that 51 percent of attendees said they thought AJAX was hype, while 49 percent said they thought it was hot. However, one audience member said he believes "youll see DTOs or dumb transfer objects. I think youll see all kinds of bad decisions made going too far with AJAX."

Meanwhile, Beust said "writing AJAX applications is a lot more challenging than writing client applications —mainly because of the tools—but its worth it. Were definitely seeing layers on top of AJAX. Its coming. There are plenty of frameworks that do that now and were going to keep building on that."

Hani Suleiman, chief technology officer of Formicary, said he believes "Java EE [enterprise edition] 5 will bring back people who are scarred, wounded and saddened by J2EE [Java 2 Enterprise Edition] as a whole. It has a lot more pleasant view and a natural programmer style."

Cameron Purdy, CEO of Tangosol Inc., said he believes "a lot of focus will go back to the desktop; theres quite a battle brewing for the desktop."

Moreover, "Microsoft sees fit to update IE, which will break all these AJAX apps," he joked.

In addition, Purdy predicted "a schism ... someones going to open up access to the control of Java."

However, he added that "Sun has been an incredible steward for Java. For all their faults, I dont think any other company could do what they did. Sun has planted a very broad garden and as an industry we can profit from it."

Meanwhile, Magnusson asked the audience if anybody had tried the Ruby on Rails framework. Several people raised their hands. When he asked how many had used it in a production system, only two raised their hands.

One developer said he had concerns about its maturity level, amount of errors, quality of errors and other issues. Yet, he noted that Ruby on Rails is able to build some applications much faster than in the Java world.

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