OpenAJAX Alliance Sets Road Map

The semiformal effort to set a direction for AJAX-style development gets off to a sound start, setting the tone for the group's goals and establishing a name for itself: the OpenAJAX Alliance.

The semiformal effort to set a direction for Asynchronous JavaScript and XML-style development got off to a sound start last week, setting the tone for the groups goals and establishing a name for itself: the OpenAJAX Alliance.

The group, led by IBM, Zimbra and others, met in San Francisco on May 15 and 16 during the OpenAJAX Summit to establish a road map for how the OpenAJAX Alliance can help broaden the adoption of AJAX.

Coach Wei, chief technology officer at Burlington, Mass.-based Nexaweb Technologies, who attended the OpenAJAX Summit, told eWEEK that more than 20 of the groups 28 companies participated in the event hosted by Adobe Systems.

The group decided that its official mission is to advance adoption of AJAX technologies, Wei said. To achieve this, he added, the group established three main areas of focus: decrease the risk of AJAX adoption by providing interoperability; ensure that AJAX solutions adhere to open standards and use open-source technology; and preserve the open nature of the Web.

"We decided to keep it informal," Wei said of the OpenAJAX Alliance. "Were not going to make it a corporation or a formal organization. We dont want to become a standards organization or an open-source hosting organization like Eclipse or Apache. But we will work with groups like the W3C [World Wide Web Consortium] for standards and Eclipse and Apache for open-source projects."

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Wei said the group also came to a consensus on the idea of having a complete open-source stack for AJAX—possibly using the Eclipse Foundations AJAX Tools Framework, Nexawebs XAP (Extensible AJAX platform) or AJAX frameworks such as the Dojo tool kit.

In addition, the OpenAJAX Alliance decided to hold weekly or biweekly conference calls, with the first action being to look at how to improve interoperability among AJAX solutions, Wei said.

In a blog post, Scott Dietzen, president and chief technology officer of Zimbra, said the OpenAJAX Alliance came away with five main themes: "We need to clearly define AJAX; Clarify the mission of OpenAJAX; Endorse and improve AJAX platform technologies; Endorse and improve AJAX design patterns; and Last, but not least, improve the browser."

Dietzen said it is important to ensure "that AJAX remains multiclient—Windows, Apple, Linux, etc., as well as working from PCs to (hopefully) mobile devices; multibrowser—Firefox, IE [Microsoft Internet Explorer], Safari, Opera, etc.; multiserver—Linux, Other Unix, Windows, and legacy; and multilanguage/container on the server—Java, C#, PHP, Ruby/Rails, etc."

Moreover, Dietzen added that he believes the "competition for the hearts and minds of developers between Visual Studio and Eclipse; between IE and Firefox; and between Atlas and Kabuki, Dojo, et al. is good for all. At the same time, I think it is generally going to be increasingly hard for other proprietary vendors to find a sweet spot between Microsoft and open source."

Nexawebs Wei said his company later in 2006 will release aRex, a declarative framework for building AJAX-based rich Internet applications that does not require developers to be expert in DHTML, JavaScript or XmlHttpRequest technologies.

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Nexaweb also has proposed XAP to the Apache Software Foundation as a potential standard and is awaiting a vote on whether the project will be accepted, Wei said. XAP is an open-source declarative framework for building Web 2.0 applications that provides an XML-based framework for building, deploying and maintaining rich, interactive, AJAX-based Web applications, he said. And XAP is designed to leverage existing AJAX projects, he added.

"One missing component is a declarative way of doing AJAX components in the open-source world," Wei said. "So we are willing to make this contribution to the community. We dont want an open-source project owned by one company like Nexaweb."

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