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RIA & Ajax: Article

Widgets, Security, and the OpenAjax Alliance at AJAXWorld

John Ferraiolo gives an update on the second wave of AJAX standards iniatives by the Alliance

No longer can only Google do JavaScript in the browser. AJAX toolkits galore have flourished and now, without having to have geniuses on your payroll, companies can build Google-like apps. But there is enormous diversity among the AJAX toolkits, said John Ferraiolo today at the 5th International Conference & Expo in New York City, and therein lies a problem: a rich ecosystem with lots of alternatives that fill different niches brings with it a need for resolving interoperability issues - the standards are not yet in place to get a widget from one toolkit to talk to another from a different toolkit.

AJAX is now mainstream, and is becoming a standard feature of mobile phones.

You will be able to browse the same exact web pages on your mobile phones, with the same HTML and JS being used on the desktop--albeit with modifications for screen size, touch screens like the iPhone has, etc.

Founded in 2006, the year after "AJAX" was coined, the OpenAjax Alliance began with just 15 companies. Now there are over 100 members.

The Alliance's first overall achievement was to define AJAX as rich experiences using a variety of browser technologies and techniques, not just XMLHttpRequest. The OpenAjax Hub was its first technical initiative, allowing multiple toolkits to be integrated on the same web page. OpenAjax Hub 1.0 allows for loose coupling of JavaScript components that don't know how to deal with each other. The Hub was proved out at an interoperability event as is now industry-grade.

The OpenAjax Registry is another deliverable - a way of avoiding collisions when multiple Ajax libraries are used on the same web page.

The second wave of activity by the OpenAjax Alliance began with OpenAjax Hub 1.1, which added among other things a framework for secure mashups.

Leveraging the existing security features of the most popular browsers, IBM researchers discovered a way of maintaining a secure environment despite 'holes' found by others in the industry. Developed by IBM Research, a magical solution called SMash (for "Secure Mashups") was implemented at the beginning of 2007.

A companion effort to SMash -- OpenAjax Metadata -- is about the widgets/gadgets themselves. There are dozens of widgets formats--Google, Yahoo!, Apple, Microsoft, etc--so that to do a mashup you currently need a programmer.

The Alliance is hoping that OpenAjax Metadata will be finalized and approved by the Fall.

Mobile AJAX is another area of major activity, with a white paper draft already completed. And finally it has been developing a prioritized list of features that the AJAX toolkit community needs in future browsers, so that it can inform the major browser developers (IE9, Firefox 4 etc) of the issues and concerns.

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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