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RIA & Ajax: Article

Tech Titans Contribute AJAX Technologies to Open Source Community

"Open AJAX" Initiative Members to Drive Collaborative Innovation to Make the Web Easier to Use

Prominent computer industry vendors and Internet-based businesses announced that they are making it easier for an open-source community to form and popularize AJAX. AJAX is a fast-growing open client technology that businesses are incorporating into their external and internal Web sites to simplify the browsing experience, and make it easier for users to shop, work, plan, correspond and navigate online.

AJAX makes it unnecessary to manually refresh one's browser to send or receive information over the Web. Instead, information is automatically updated and available on demand, allowing you to "drag and drop" or input information and get a response without refreshing the browser, much like you would do on a PC desktop. It can reduce the steps needed to complete a transaction over the Web or create a competitive edge for enterprise companies and Web designers, for example.

The initial supporting members of the new initiative -- dubbed Open AJAX -- include BEA, Borland, the Dojo Foundation, Eclipse Foundation, Google, IBM, Laszlo Systems, Mozilla Corporation, Novell, Openwave Systems, Oracle, Red Hat, Yahoo, Zend and Zimbra. They intend to promote AJAX's promise of universal compatibility with any computer device, application, desktop or operating system, and easy incorporation into new and existing software programs.

AJAX -- short for Asynchronous JavaScript and XML -- is a type of "Rich Internet Application." It enables Web innovations, including: 

* The ability to update portions of a Web page without refreshing the entire screen.  This can, for example, enable users to scroll   through a virtual map or photographs without refreshing their browser screens. It can also enable calendars to
pop up when a user mousse over a date in an email.

* Determining, on the fly, that information typed into a Web screen is appropriate -- such as when entering information on an order form. This can eliminate the delay and frustration of submitting an online form, only to have the server flag mistakes one at a time.

* Dragging and dropping of objects inside a Web browser similar to the capabilities available on computer desktops to move folders and documents around.

*A rich set of buttons, icons, scroll bars, menus and widgets that can ease and speed navigation, as well as simplify information retrieval.

AJAX, similar to Web services technology, can be incrementally adopted into existing applications and Web sites, as needed. This characteristic makes it more cost effective and manageable.

To enable rapid adoption of AJAX by the broadest community of software developers, IBM has proposed the contribution of its software to the Eclipse Foundation and Mozilla Corporation that will allow one to develop and debug an AJAX application. The proposed Eclipse AJAX toolkit framework is the first approach that supports multiple AJAX runtime toolkits. Its personality builder can typically enable additional toolkits in less than an hour. The runtimes presently supported are from Dojo, OpenRico and Zimbra. Moving forward, other community members will also be able to participate in the proposed Eclipse project with the incorporation of other personality builders or toolkit extensions.

San Mateo-based Zimbra, which has been developing AJAX applications for two years, will make its Ajax runtime toolkit available to the community under Apache and Mozilla public licenses. The runtime toolkit provides an object-oriented JavaScript class library with a standard set of widgets, an event framework, and communication tools. The resulting applications can be served from virtually any server and run in any browser, including Internet Explorer, Firefox and Safari. Going forward, this Open AJAX industry initiative will also continue to be well integrated with the Kabuki Ajax Toolkit Project recently accepted for incubation by the Apache Software Foundation.

Other community members are expected to be active in the future. Participation will involve the Dojo Toolkit, an Open Source JavaScript library. It is an AJAX runtime that allows users to build responsive applications using simple and powerful application program interfaces. Applications built on Dojo easily adapt to changing standards and browser capabilities because Dojo is portable between HTML, SVG and other emerging standards.

More Stories By RIA News Desk

Ever since Google popularized a smarter, more responsive and interactive Web experience by using AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript + XML) for its Google Maps & Gmail applications, SYS-CON's RIA News Desk has been covering every aspect of Rich Internet Applications and those creating and deploying them. If you have breaking RIA news, please send it to RIA@sys-con.com to share your product and company news coverage with AJAXWorld readers.

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