Tuesday, September 18th, 2007

ActiveGrid trying to become the RedHat of Ajax?

Category: Dojo

Chris Keene of ActiveGrid has just acquired TurboAjax, the Dojo tool provider that has been featured on Ajaxian many times for its quality widgets.

Chris discusses the acquisition, and why “the Ajax world needs a RedHat to create a common distribution and provide commercial support and training behind an enterprise-ready toolkit.”

He outlines his issues with the open source Ajax community:

  • Lack of commercial support: without the availability of commercial support, AJAX will not achieve enterprise adoption. With this acquisition, ActiveGrid will now stand behind both the TurboAjax products and the Dojo Toolkit.
  • Missing features: common complaints around the Dojo toolkit include lack of complete documentation and robust samples. If AJAX toolkits are to be adopted, they need the same polish as proprietary solutions like Flex.
  • Inconsistent standards: as the saying goes, the nice thing about AJAX standards is that there are so many to choose from. There is an alphabet soup of Javascript libraries out there, including JQuery, Prototype, Rico, Scriptaculous, Ext and YUI. Each of these takes a very different approach to solving the same problem.
  • Security: don’t even get me started on the security challenges in an environment full of widgets, gadgets and 3rd party web services. Suffice it to say that when this rock gets turned over, lots of ugly stuff creepy-crawly things will slither out.

Yet another example of commercial interests getting involved in taking the cool tech of the web, and trying to make a play in the enterprise.

Posted by Dion Almaer at 11:03 am

3.1 rating from 29 votes


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Interesting idea, especially if they can dedicate some engineering resources to Dojo development and documentation. From Christopher’s blog post I understand they will move away from their own product, which – based on what I’ve heard in the market – wasn’t getting a lot of traction anyhow: that should free up some developers. And with the TurboAjax acquisition they should not just get the copyright on the TurboGrid, but also some top-notch Dojo developers. I think it’s a smart strategy, Dojo has a lot of traction. Although I’m not sure how easy it is for IBM or other companies to do something similar (think: Oracle supporting Redhat linux).

Comment by Jep Castelein — September 18, 2007

I thought we already were the RedHats of Ajax Frameworks…?
Commercial support; YES
Commercial SW Vendor with the copyright; YES
Infrastructure to build upon; YES


Comment by Thomas Hansen — September 18, 2007

Why is mootools always left out of every quick rundown of alternate javascript libraries? We switched away from prototype and scriptaculous to the much smaller mootools and couldn’t be happier.

Comment by Brian — September 18, 2007

Thanks Dion. We think that the model of a commercial company championing an open source effort as well as standing behind it for support is a good approach. So far this has worked well for databases (MySQL), J2EE servers (JBoss) and business intelligence (JasperSoft) among others. The trick is to find some other services or products to charge money to support the commercial enterprise without choking off the open source part of the business model. Not surprisingly, we have some ideas on that – stay tuned!

Comment by ckeene — September 18, 2007

Point #3: Inconsistent standards brings to mind an interesting analogy.

Consider the web browser as an emerging operating system that has a single universally-available language, Javascript (ignore Flash, XUL due to limited scope/support). That puts the different libraries like Prototype, JQuery, etc. into a place of being languages of their own, each with a slightly different feature set. It is those differences that drive competition and innovation, so I welcome these “inconsistent standards”, at least to a point.

As you stated, this model has worked well for other companies establishing commercial support for open source software, so congratulations and best wishes!

Comment by Jason Porritt — September 18, 2007

Why? That’s easy. Media bias. That’s ok. We have the comments section. Moo!

Comment by Marat Denenberg — September 18, 2007

Inconsistent standards: as the saying goes, the nice thing about AJAX standards is that there are so many to choose from. There is an alphabet soup of Javascript libraries out there, including JQuery, Prototype, Rico, Scriptaculous, Ext and YUI. Each of these takes a very different approach to solving the same problem.

Er, since when do Prototype and Scriptaculous approach solving the same problems, in any aspect except DOM building?

Comment by Trevor — September 18, 2007

That is an approach, unfortunately it’ll drive you AWAY from what you actually are SUPPOSED to do and into the stuff that you earn money one. A more correct way to do this is to make sure you earn your money on the stuff that’s your product (the actually library) by choosing a Dual License approach like either we have done with Gaia Ajax Widgets or like Trolltech have done with Qt…
If you try to find alternative incomes your product will in the end suffer and your support mechanism and “commercial addons” etc will be way fat… ;)
Dual License and let the Open Eource developers use it for free and the commercial closed source vendors pay money is the best way (if you ask me)

Comment by Thomas Hansen — September 18, 2007


My sentiments exactly. The amount of drooling over jQuery is unjustifiable. At the same time, there is no good explanation for failing to mention mootools. It seems very unduly biased.

This is just like MySQL vs. PostgreSQL. I could never understand it. Anyone with a brain can see that PostgreSQL is superior, but for some reason there is no shortage of drooling over MySQL and MySQL dominated the market for a long time (don’t know about today, I haven’t checked).

Same thing happened with Struts. Struts was an inferior web framework, but it got more popular than far better solutions. It seems like many inferior products/solutions/projects get popular for whatever reason.

Comment by Leo Lipelis — September 18, 2007

Let’s not give out the moniker – the next micheal jordan – until it’s deserved. As far as I can tell they are not even in the short list of ajax offerings – commercial or open source – let alone the “red hat” of ajax.

The web 2.0 world likes to hype things but come on, this is just silly.

Comment by Steve — September 20, 2007

@Steve – Agreed. I’d like to think (in an ideal world anyway) that someone can’t just throw money at something and claim to be the next big shot in the Ajax world. Let them prove themselves first.

@Brian – Why are you talking about mootools in this thread? It has nothing to do with this article whatsoever. Why do you have to be such a childish moron and spam your framework here. Do you have a problem with your brain? Remain on topic.

Comment by Gavin — September 20, 2007

“without the availability of commercial support, AJAX will not achieve enterprise adoption”

Plenty of enterprise applications have been and are adopting AJAX using some of the libraries from the so called “alphabet soup”. The lack of commercial support isn’t preventing AJAX adoption in the enterprise market, perhaps just causing more caution before companies adopt it.

Comment by Brad Harris — September 20, 2007

@Steve -Note that the title of the article says “trying” not “is” or “claims to be.” Just think of us as the tall skinny kid who shows some promise but has a long way to go out playing pickup ball and dreaming of being the next MJ

Comment by ckeene — September 20, 2007

This is such a vaporware announcement. Exactly how will they support Dojo? And who will pay for it? I bet what they end up doing is selling a product that happens to use Dojo, and if you buy that product, you will get Dojo support.

Comment by Frank — September 23, 2007

@ckeene – The examples you list like MySQL and JBOSS are actual categories of software. An AJAX library, while we all love them, is like a little puddle in the open source ocean. Didn’t ActiveGrid already do this same strategy for the LAMP stack? That is at least a major piece of software.

Comment by ChrisP — September 23, 2007

We use mootools in CMS TYPO3 – they Rocks!

Comment by Nikita Kapustin — September 23, 2007

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