Tuesday, December 20th, 2005

Apache Ajax Toolkit Framework Proposal

Category: Editorial

Apache has received a proposal for AJAX Toolkit Framework, championed by Sam Ruby.

There are many excellent developers on the list as initial members, and the core seems to have come from Zimbra AjaxTk, and IBM for their Eclipse tooling.

Sub projects

The subprojects will include development tools necessary to encourage browser-based, AJAX-style development for individual users as well as in the enterprise. The tools will be driven by an extensible IDE Framework
and may include utilities to assist in code development, analysis, and testing. The tools will be adaptable to different AJAX runtimes, some of which will also be subprojects in the incubator. The initial submission includes an IDE and one such runtime.

These initial projects are intended merely as starting points and should not be taken as bounding the scope of the project as a whole. Some other potential projects may include:

  • WYSIWYG tools for building AJAX-style interfaces
  • Declarative grammars or abstractions for AJAX programming
  • A common data model to facilitate efficient server communication with
    Javascript or DOM access


While the term AJAX (Asynchronous Javascript and XML) has only recently been coined, the underlying web standards and technologies (JavaScript a.k.a. ECMAScript, DOM, XML, SOAP, and so on) have been around for years.

Although the term is used in a variety of ways, AJAX typically describes techniques towards developing interactive applications on the web client including asynchronous messaging, use of XML grammar in client-side
applications, incremental page updates, and improved user interface controls. AJAX applications combine the rich UI experience of programmed clients with the low-cost lifecycle management of web-based applications.

AJAX has raised awareness of the high potential of web applications, it has encouraged companies to adopt rich web-based interfaces over traditional “fat” clients, and it has spawned development activity to create toolkits and abstractions to make AJAX-style development easier and more powerful.
This is an important trend for open source. The client itself can be composed entirely of open-source parts, such as Mozilla’s Firefox or KDE’s Konqueror, and does not require any particular operating system, helping to
make a more level playing field for all development. More importantly, AJAX is back-end agnostic as transactions are done over HTTP. Keeping the client open forces vendors to keep the communication channel open as well, and this can only continue as long as the client technology keeps pace with
proprietary alternatives. The open, standards based communications channel is what drives many technologies inside Apache, so success of the open client is vital to Apache. The mission of this project is to encourage
innovation around enterprise-strength client runtimes and tools and build a community which can select and nurture a select set which will be most beneficial to the web.

Posted by Dion Almaer at 3:17 pm

3.4 rating from 7 votes


Comments feed

Why don’t they contribute this to dojo, which seems to be shaping up as the grand-unified-framework for client-side javascript.

Comment by Dan — December 20, 2005

They don’t contribute this to Dojo because of a few things.

First of all because this seems to quite exceed the reach of Dojo. Then because the Apache project is an established umbrella with far more relevance than Dojo. And lastly because being developed in that environment it will probably mean the birth of some other projects around it (as evidenced e.g. by the mention of a WYSIWYG editor)

And don’t get me wrong, Dojo is great. But that’s not the only thing that matters. Dojo is young. Dojo, as stated by its own creators is more of a library than a framework. And what’s more “seeming like it’s shaping up as something” is probably not enough confidence for them.

What this people propose tends more towards creating a full framework, easily integrable in various architectures, and with a set of tools to use and build on it.

Instead, what could be asked is that they allow and even ask if possible for contributions from Dojo… and Prototype, and Behaviour…
That would be a really great idea.

Comment by Gonzalo — December 20, 2005

Why Dojo? Why not Prototype and Script.aculo.us?

Comment by Juze — December 20, 2005

I think (but am quite often wrong) that Dojo may have received more direct thought because:

*It is seemingly the most professional looking javascript/dhtml codebase I have seen thus far. (Packaging/testing/building, it’s all commercial quality stuff)

*Is widely adopted by a very diverse audience, and is specifically being adopted and targeted directly by a growing number of apache projects.

*Is nice to have one unified place to go, at least for very specialized things like dhtml/javascript.

*Is very active in the community and gernally has a really kickass attitude towards users and the future in general.

Just my opinions, take them with a grain of salt ;)

Comment by Jesse Kuhnert — December 20, 2005

gentlenerds, lend me your ears…
what we need is not another tag language not another xml bastard child. give us a browser agnostic ecmascript api and let the need derive adaptors. it is not your mission to birth yet another cool thing down colective throat use restraint and develop the base and all else will follow.
the glory shall be thine.

Comment by cezar lotrean — December 20, 2005

Gonzalo’s comment saying that “an Apache project is an established umbrella with far more relevance than Dojo” is the very key of the story. This proposal looks like a corporate PR action to use the Apache brand, whereas Dojo really does it “the Apache way” and is used or considered very seriously by several Apache project.

See the numerous comments to the proposal to learn more about this.

Comment by Sylvain Wallez — December 21, 2005

Disclaimer for my previous comment: this my very personal opinion as an individual, and is in no way an official statement of the Apache Software Foundation.

Comment by Sylvain Wallez — December 22, 2005

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