Monday, October 27th, 2008

OpenAjax Alliance Announcements

Category: OpenAjax

<>p>The OpenAjax Alliance, an organization that has been working to promote more standardization among JavaScript toolkits and IDEs, held an InteropFest last week at the AJAXWorld conference.

The OpenAjax Alliance has been focusing on two things:

  • Ajax Developer Tools – The group has been working on creating a standard XML file format called OpenAjax Metadata. The goal of this is to have a file format that can describe all of the JavaScript APIs and widgets in an Ajax toolkit, making it easier for IDEs to just read this file in to do nifty things like autocompletion and code hinting.
  • Ajax Mashups – The group has been working on producing two technologies to make Ajax mashups easier. The first is called OpenAjax Hub, and provides a secure message ‘bus’ on which different widgets on a page can communicate with each other without having to know about specific JavaScript libraries; internally iframes are used to isolate the widgets and toolkits from each other. The second technology for mashups is again the OpenAjax Metadata format, which describes a “mashable widget” standard to provide extra information needed by mashup tools.

The big news from last week for the OpenAjax Alliance was getting these pieces interoperating with each other across a range of products and projects:

With today’s announcement, multiple vendors have implemented key parts of OpenAjax Metadata. Developer tools from Adobe, Aptana, Eclipse Foundation, and IBM’s Rational software division consume OpenAjax Metadata and various popular Ajax libraries and widgets have been made available in the OpenAjax formats.

Vendors participating in mashup-related interoperability include Google, IBM, Nexaweb, SAP and TIBCO. The members of OpenAjax Alliance have completed a reference implementation for both OpenAjax Hub 1.1 and OpenAjax Metadata.

One of the highlights of AJAXWorld today was when Adobe’s CTO, Kevin Lynch, began his keynote at AJAXWorld today by talking about how Dreamweaver CS4 was using the widget format from OpenAjax Metadata as the product’s native widget format, with demos of drag&drop of widgets from some popular toolkits onto the Dreamweaver canvas (e.g., I am pretty sure I saw Dojo and YUI widgets showing up in Dreamweaver, but the screen was a bit blurry).

Learn more about:

Have you worked with one of these technologies? What’s your experience and thoughts on them?

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Posted by Brad Neuberg at 8:00 am
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I’m reminded of John Resig’s earlier comments on this group:
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http://ejohn.org/blog/thoughts-on-openajax/

Comment by TNO — October 27, 2008

Actually that link above is about the OpenAjax Hub and OpenAjax Registry, not the OpenAjax Metadata for IDE and Mashup usecases.

To illuminate OpenAjax Metadata in the context of jQuery and John Resig… Here’s what OAA Metadata does (and why it’s valuable to you):

John documents jQuery’s APIs using SDoc. SDoc is a richer annotation scheme than that of JSDoc. SDoc is supported by Aptana Studio, but not supported by Dreamweaver, Visual Studio, or JSDT from Eclipse. However, SDoc can be transformed into OAA Metadata (and so can JSDoc) and Aptana, Dreamweaver, and VisualStudio and JSDT either already support OAA Metadata now (Aptana Studio 1.2 and I guess Dreamweaver based on Kevin Kynch’s announcement) or have stated they plan to (see minutes from the OAA meeting in October with Microsoft’s OAA representatative Bertrand Le Roy)

Accordingly, developers can get all the great code assist, data types, and documentation that can be derived from SDoc or JSDoc annotations (open source transformation tools for this are available from the OAA and are part of the project), and get that across their tool of choice.

Unlike the OAA Hub and OAA Registry, OAA Metadata is less about interoperability among ajax libraries, and more about how major IDE and development tools vendors can better support JavaScript and Ajax development and make it easier for folks like John R to get support for their libraries and code in a much wider array of tools.

-Kevin @ Aptana

Comment by khakman2 — October 27, 2008

jQuery (therefore John Resig?) doesn’t use SDoc anymore (or JSDoc for that matter). We’ve switched to a wiki for the primary place to work on the API documentation. After the switch we wrote tools to export the wiki content to an xml format that other tools could use.

Now there is a tool to convert that to the OpenAjax Metadata: http://jqueryjs.googlecode.com/svn/trunk/tools/openAjaxMetadata/

Its not complete yet and hasn’t really be tested with any IDE, but it basically provides all the metadata an IDE should need to provide inline documentation for jQuery.

Comment by jzaefferer — October 27, 2008

I think hub is great. We just added it to JavaScriptMVC: http://javascriptmvc.com/blog/?p=97.

I’ve now been on two projects that merge JavaScriptMVC with other packaged UI components (jQuery and YUI).

Before using hub, the interaction points between different libraries was, as I put it in one email, like stitching Angelina Jolie’s head on Jessica Alba’s body. Yes, it will look alright. But there is this huge distracting scar. In terms of JavaScript, that scar is where one library needs to interact with another library.

If libraries, and especially packaged UI components, start providing standard methods of inter-operating, it makes building frakensiten apps more appealing.

Now that we’ve we’ve started using or inserting hub hook points into the code those scars are almost un-noticeable.

Comment by JustinMeyer — October 27, 2008

The OpenAjax widget spec sounds like a great idea but needs to be upgraded to go beyond basic properties and methods. Almost every widget library supports the concept of “configs” and “events”. How about support for these in the spec? The lack of this basic metadata was one of the reasons we had to abandon JSDoc and scriptdoc long ago.

Comment by jackslocum — October 27, 2008

their site doesn’t even work with Opera

Comment by mrmass — November 25, 2008

To say that, “SDoc is a richer annotation scheme than that of JSDoc,” is misleading at best. While SDoc is well-defined, there is no such thing as a single “JSDoc standard” so we’re left to guess how exactly one could objectively measure that anyway. Are you comparing SDoc to the SourceForge project named “JSDoc” or the googlecode project named “JsDoc Toolkit” — they implement different tag sets.

By my count JsDoc Toolkit implements twice as many tags as the current posted SDoc specification, and JsDoc Toolkit allows for custom tags to be defined as well, so how is SDoc considered “richer” exactly?

Comment by micmath — December 5, 2008

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