Motivation: Lots of this is predicated on the notion that the Web is standardizing
Extra: See our quick AJAX book reviews and link resources
Since february of 2005 there has been a flood of coverage on AJAX technologies, applications and tools. It is not hard to credit properly a specific event which triggered the sudden upsurge in AJAX technologies- the February 2005 posting by Jesse James Garret at Adaptive Path that got the AJAX name coined and spawned a great deal of interest in AJAX applications and technologies.
When examined in this new light, applications like Google's GMail, Flickr.com album website and Google's Maps certainly put the lie to two important notions. First, it is nonsense that the Web interface is at the utter mercy of network latency and all that could be done to diminish those costs had been done. Second, it had been baldly stated that the Web interface could not come close to matching the range and power of GUI components available on the desktop. The fact that these notions were being fostered by Microsoft, one of the inventors of a key component of AJAX technology, XMLHTTP, just adds a bitter irony. It is doubly so because Microsoft put all its pioneering DHTML/AJAX technology into a deep 4-6 year sleep until AJAX methods starting bursting very successfully on the scene largely through the efforts of others.
Now Microsoft is trying to claim paternal leadership of AJAX and touting
its upcoming Atlas environ as a leading AJAX tool. Don't
be fooled. The only
claim that Atlas will have to interoperability and cross platform capabilities
is that it "may run in the major browsers". As well, Atlas has
deep server-side dependencies on ASP.NET and other .NET lock-ins. Atlas is
hardly a cross platform, Web 2.0 tool. But that raises the question what tools are available for true Web 2.0 cross platform use.
AJAX Development and Tools
Now other developers will say that such tools as Adobe Acrobat Designer
and Abobe/Macromedia Flash and Flex are full visual design enabled IDEs which
2.0 standard less the very important E4X extensions that considerably simplify
XML processing. But Flash ActionScript has so many extensions for animation
and graphics and is not yet designed to be used to pickup Web page oriented
Backbase is an example of a AJAX enhanced editing and debugging tool. Backbase's AJAX developer tools run within the browser (debugging) and has plug-ins for Eclipse and Dreamweaver which provide code completion & syntax highlighting. Backbase has extensive templates and widgets for GUI components as shown in the screenshot above that allows for very robust GUI interactions on the client without incurring the cost of network roundtrips as might be the case for JSF or ASP and other classic Web language tools.
Backbase runs in all the popular browsers and server-side utilities run
on Linux, Windows, and several flavors of Unix. The server-side utilities
can be used with ASP, Cold Fusion, JSP, PHP and other server side scripting
tools. Check with Backbase for details on .NET and Java interfaces. Finally
there is a free Community edition for personal use (non-commercial and non-institutional
purposes). It includes the Backbase Presentation Client (BPC) and Developer
Tibco General Interface - The very first words for the Tibco General Interface description on John Udell's weblog (click the small screenshot) tells the whole story - " we have our own complete intermediate object layer, with our own DOM, our own Events ... which targets Internet Explorer ... but now we are working on Mozilla/Firefox". But good luck Safari, Konqueror, Opera and other browsers. Yes, the IDE for General Interface is impressive - but the framework is on the proprietary margins like Neuron Data was in the desktop GUI field - very attractive functionality and cross platform. But the premium price (Tibco is taking the same route) plus enough non-standard API and components consigned Neuron Data to this memorabilia site. I would be from Missouri, deep in the Ozarks, on this one.
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