Sun Joins Efforts to Boost AJAX

The company signs on with the OpenAJAX Alliance and the Dojo Foundation to help advance AJAX tooling and interoperability.

Sun Microsystems has announced new moves to bolster its support for and its place in the world of AJAX development.

The company announced on June 16 that it is deepening its involvement in the AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML) community by joining the OpenAJAX Alliance and the Dojo Foundation, in order to help build standards for AJAX tooling and work to promote and increase interoperability across AJAX implementations, the company said.

The OpenAJAX Alliance is a cooperative effort of about 30 companies trying to advance the state of the art for AJAX-style development, while the Dojo Foundation is an open-source effort based around a popular AJAX framework known as the Dojo Toolkit.

As part of the Dojo Toolkit project, Sun will be contributing AJAX widgets, helping with internationalization efforts and refining documentation, while Greg Murray, Suns AJAX Architect, will be one of the people representing Sun as a member of the Dojo Foundation, said officials of Sun, based in Santa Clara, Calif.

Moreover, in addition to joining these groups, Sun announced a preview of a new plug-in for its NetBeans IDE (integrated development environment) to support the jMaki framework, which it says will help to improve developer productivity. Project jMaki is an open-source JavaScript wrapper framework for the Java platform.

Sun also recently launched two new AJAX Web portals, and, as well as several enhanced Sun BluePrints AJAX-enabled JavaServer Faces components for the Sun Java Studio Creator tool set. JMaki allows Java developers to use JavaScript in their Java-based applications.

"Were looking forward to Suns involvement in helping to mature the tool kit," Alex Russell, current president of the Dojo Foundation, based in Palo Alto, Calif., said in a statement. "Suns support of the Dojo Foundation, inclusion of Rhino in the upcoming Java Platform Standard Edition 6 and recent release of Project Phobos underline a commitment to a better future for both users and developers."

/zimages/4/28571.gifClick here to read more about the road map recently announced by OpenAJAX.

Suns Project Phobos is a lightweight, scripting-friendly Web application environment running on the Java platform.

In an interview, Russell said Sun has offered both development and infrastructure support, "and were thankful to them for both." He said Sun has already started building on top of Dojo for many of its Web tools, and the Dojo Foundation and Sun are looking for ways to better integrate in the future.

And over the longer term, Russell said, he believes "Suns involvement, along with the tremendous support of AOL and IBM, highlight that the Dojo Foundation [offers] a vendor- and server-language-neutral place for getting professional-quality JavaScript development done."

Russell said some of the other JavaScript tool development efforts are heavily focused on one server side language or another, but for its part, Dojos "agnosticism" enables the Dojo Foundation to host discussions and development to solve common problems "that might otherwise get addressed in a more fragmented or harder to use way."

Meanwhile, he said he hopes Sun can help with the Foundations internationalization, as well as helping to make Dojos widget set more complete—two efforts Sun has volunteered for. And he said he would like Suns assistance in making Dojo work better in server-side JavaScript environments like Suns Project Phobos.

Earlier in June, IBM contributed code to the Dojo Foundation. IBMs technology contributions were aimed at extending the code already available in the Dojo Toolkit to enable internationalization of applications and make them accessible to people with disabilities through a variety of assistive technologies, including DHTML (Dynamic HTML) and accessible widgets, IBM officials said.

/zimages/4/28571.gifGuru Jakob Nielsen offers advice on designing applications for usability. Click here to watch the video.

In addition, IBMs donation will also extend the data model already in the Dojo Toolkit and provide foundation architecture and Web-based tools for the industry to engineer, collaborate on, share and reuse as software development best practices, the company said.

Rod Smith, vice president of emerging technologies at IBM, said of Suns move into the OpenAJAX Alliance, which IBM helped to form: "I think theyre seeing things along the community lines the rest of the vendors in OAA [the OpenAJAX Alliance] are."

Coach Wei, chief technology officer at Nexaweb Technologies, a member of the OpenAJAX Alliance, said he believes Suns involvement will be big because joining Java and AJAX on the client side makes a lot of sense.

"AJAX is good for a certain kind of application and Java is good for other kinds of applications," Wei said. "Suns joining OpenAJAX and Dojo shows that Sun recognized the momentum behind AJAX."

Wei said he thinks Suns recent efforts, including Rhino, jMaki and Phobos, "show that Sun understands the killer value proposition of combing Java and AJAX together," and that the Sun move will help the industry and the market for promoting Java and AJAX interoperability and deliver better solutions that can leverage the strengths of both Java and AJAX.

"There are five million Java developers," Wei said. "Sun can certainly help [with] connecting AJAX with this community, bring both client side Java as well AJAX to a next step."

ICESoft Technologies, an AJAX technology maker based in Calgary, Alberta, also in June announced its membership in the OpenAJAX Alliance. ICESoft markets an AJAX solution known as ICEFaces.

Speaking of his companys move to join the alliance, Chris Erickson, CEO of ICESoft, said, "While ICEFaces is fully Java EE [Enterprise Edition]-compliant and provides significant advantages over AJAX solutions that require JavaScripting, we also must continue to ensure that our solution interoperates fully with other solutions in the industry."

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