Kojax: Mobile AJAX from Microsoft?

Microsoft is reportedly working on a mobile AJAX technology code-named Kojax. The goal of Kojax is said to be to enable developers to create interactive mobile applications using a combination of Visual Studio tools and JavaScript.

Who loves ya, baby? Well, it appears Microsoft does if you are an AJAX developer building mobile applications.

According to published reports, Microsoft is working on an AJAX-style mobile application development environment code-named Kojax, designed to help developers create mobile applications, purportedly for use in emerging markets. AJAX is a Web development technique used for creating interactive Web applications.

The code name for the technology brings to mind Kojak, the tough, bald-headed, lollipop-licking cop from 70s-era TV crime drama of the same name. Kojak's catchphrase was, "Who loves ya, baby?" Microsoft must be hoping AJAX developers will dig Kojax. However, the company would not comment on the project.

Microsoft blogger and code-name maven Mary Jo Foley, who uncovered the Kojax name and information, said, "Kojax is a mobile development platform, according to my sources, that will allow Microsoft- and third-party-developed applets [to] run in an AJAX-like way, using a combination of Visual Studio tools and JavaScript, on Java-based mobile phones."

Foley also noted that the types of applications expected to be created with Kojax will be:

"More like a virtual wallet for online payments, a group messaging service and photo-sharing app-things that build on top of Windows Live for Mobile services. Some of these Kojax-based applets will [be] ad-funded; others will likely be transaction- and subscription-based."

In Kojax, it is quite possible that Microsoft will offer a more friendly mobile development solution that enables developers to tap into the power of the mobile browser and JavaScript. Indeed, standards organizations such as the OpenAjax Alliance, the World Wide Web Consortium and others have been working on the concept of mobile AJAX for the last year or more. Microsoft is a key member of the OpenAjax Alliance's IDE work group that is looking at issues such as mobile AJAX, said Jon Ferraiolo, an IBM engineer and director of the OpenAjax Alliance, a consortium of vendors and organizations working to promote AJAX interoperability.

"Kojax sounds like something in this area," said Coach Wei, an AJAX expert and chairman and founder of Nexaweb, which focuses on transforming business applications to the Web. "Developing applications on mobile devices is either native (too heavy) or browser-based (Web pages that can't do too much) so far. So something like mobile AJAX that enables someone to tap into the power of a mobile browser and JavaScript engine for rendering/processing while still connecting to the local device via local APIs for storage, etc., would be great to have."

Microsoft was instrumental in the creation and continued evolution of AJAX, including offering its own ASP.NET AJAX tooling.

In addition, Microsoft recently added support for the popular open-source jQuery JavaScript library.

Meanwhile, Foley says Kojax may be related to Microsoft's Unlimited Potential initiative, which focuses on emerging markets. If so, smart move. Smartphone use in emerging markets is growing rapidly, as many countries that lack sufficient land-line infrastructure have become ripe markets for cellular technology. And users in those countries are buying smartphones as a primary means of Internet access.

Meanwhile, if Kojax is a success, maybe next we'll see "Lojax," an AJAX-based mobile application that helps users find their lost cell phones.