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RIA & Ajax: Article

ClearNova Exec Defends Open Source AJAX Development vs Java

Steve Benfield Objects to Comment by Yakov Fain

SYS-CON special correspondent and well-known author and teacher Yakov Fain recently took the emerging (or re-emerging) AJAX development world to task.

Writing in his recent Java blog entry, Fain (pictured above) said,

"The idea is noble: instead of rendering an entire HTML page on each little change on the page, it's much better to send an asynchronous request that will get the data for you and refresh only the relevant portion of the screen. (But) every author writing on AJAX is giving the same (the only?) examples where this technology is being used: Google maps and e-mail. (BTW, I'm a little sick of these examples). Since I'm not going to be helping Google in improving their maps, I'd like to see some real-world examples implementing this technology."

ClearNova's Vice President of Strategy and Evangelism Steve Benfield, a leading proponent of AJAX development, took a bit of umbrage at these remarks, with a post of his own. Benfield (pictured below) protested:

"First, entry level developers can't do much to begin with. But they can use tools--as can intermediate and advanced developers. So what you'll see growing around AJAX are tools and frameworks--in droves.

"So, a better way to phrase the question is--can VB + PowerBuilder developers build their current apps without the tools they use--probably not. And even if they can, who wants to? It takes too long because hand-coding GUI is painful--something that is only for people that have too much time, bililng by the hour, or who have some very stringent functionality and/or performance goals.

"So, yes, I believe these programmers can build AJAX applications--with the right tools and frameworks.

"It is easy to say, just build it in Swing instead--but AJAX provides ubiquity across browsers with no special downloads--and it's backend independent. So you're free to choose a backend language and server whether its Java, PHP, .NET, Ruby, etc. Today, AJAX techniques can cover maybe 80% of the client/server GUI apps you might want to build. I predict more in the future.

"If you need to deliver apps to a mix audience--or you want to use a common set of programming techniques for your public and internal applications--then AJAX provides that. Any other downloadable medium does not although flash gets closer than anyone.

"Full disclosure: I represent a company that provides ThinkCAP JX, an open source, J2EE-based AJAX development environment and framework."

Sounds like the beginning of a good debate. What do you think?

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Enterprise Open Source News Desk trawls the fast-growing world of Professional Open Source for business-relevant items of news, opinion, and insight.

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