What Jaxer delivers to AJAX developers is the ability to “build an entire Web 2.0 application, client and server, using only the AJAX technologies you love,” said Paul Colton, founder and CEO of Aptana.
In an interview with eWEEK at Aptana’s headquarters here, Colton said Jaxer is a free and open-source technology that enables developers to create rich Web applications by unifying the development model across the client/server boundary. As such, through the life cycle of a Web page-which starts at the Web server-the developer can use the same programming language, the same DOM (Document Object Model), and the same AJAX techniques and libraries, Colton said.
“We’ve taken the Mozilla browser and wrapped a server across it,” Colton said, claiming that, “it’s the first of its kind; the first AJAX server.”
Kevin Hakman, director of marketing at Aptana, said: “It’s a cool concept; it’s why I left TIBCO and came here.” Hakman, an AJAX pioneer, was a marketing executive for TIBCO AJAX solutions.
Colton said that with Jaxer, developers can choose where functions run: on the browser, on the server, or even in both locations. The developer can modify the DOM or create new DOM elements on the server before it goes on to the browser, and browser-side functions can seamlessly call server-side functions-all of the remoting and data marshaling is done automatically, he said.
Aptana announced the first public beta of Jaxer in January and the technology now stands at version 1.1.4, with updates coming weekly.
Hakman said the roadmap for Jaxer calls for additional AJAX support. For instance, the callback environment will be made more natural, server-side support for AJAX libraries will expand and mashups will be easier to implement. Other roadmap issues include: improving scalability and performance; better tooling-such as end-to-end debugging of AJAX applications; one-click deployment; more APIs; and more integration. In addition to support for Tomcat and other Servlet containers, Aptana will expand the list of supported Web servers from the current Apache 2.x and Jetty to Microsoft IIS (Internet Information Services), Apache 1.3 and others, Hakman said.
“The main thing is you’ve got all these new AJAX developers coming out of the woodwork doing apps for Facebook and MySpace and building simple apps, but it’s that back-end that’s the hard part,” Colton said.
“So what if these developers could use the same thing on the back end as on the front end? We make it trivial now to build and run apps that are both client and server.”
Meanwhile, Aptana released a plug-in to support AIR (Adobe Integrated Runtime) with Aptana Studio, the company’s IDE (integrated development environment) for building rich Internet applications and Web 2.0 applications.
“You can build AIR apps using Jaxer, all in AJAX,” Colton said.
Aptana also has built an iPhone plug-in to enable developers to use Aptana Studio to build iPhone applications.
Colton said he is unsure what kind of demand to expect for the Jaxer technology. “It’s like asking how much demand would there be for Velcro before it was invented. Now it’s here and people love it.”
A key benefit of Jaxer is that it lowers the complexity of AJAX development, Russell said.
Today, developers have to think about a Web page as being in a couple of different states in terms of server processing, and “Jaxer has the potential to reduce the number of ‘states’ you are thinking about-and places [in which] you’re looking for code-when working on client/server interactions,” he said.
“Today, it’s very much like PHP+DOM, which is really pretty powerful stuff. We’re going to be bringing Dojo’s port of Django’s excellent templating language to bear inside of Jaxer, and I think that may highlight Jaxer’s Achilles’ Heel: other server-side environments have vast libraries of language and environment provided APIs, whereas Jaxer is, in many ways, starting from scratch on that front.”
Django is a Python-based development framework.
Colton said Aptana has filed 28 patents on various components of Jaxer.