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Thursday, May 18th, 2006

Sun Announces Ajax Widget Wrapping and JavaScript App Server

Category: Ajax, Java, JavaScript, jMaki

Over the past week, Sun has made two very interesting announcements. First, at our own Ajax Experience event, Sun announced jMaki. Created by Sun’s Ajax guru Greg Murray, jMaki (Maki is Japanese for “wrap”) provides a simple API for embedding disparate JavaScript widgets into a Java web application.

jMaki is all about enabling Java developers to use JavaScript in their Java based applications as either a JSP tag library or a JSF component. jMaki uses the best parts of Java and the best parts of JavaScript to deliver a rich AJAX style widgets.

jMaki currently provides bootstrap widgets for many components from Dojo, Scriptaculus, Yahoo UI Widgets and DHTML Goodies. This project also includes a set of AJAX widgets with a focus on Web 2.0 such as a RSS widget, a del.icio.us Bookmark widget, a Chat widget, and many more to come.

We’re pretty excited by how jMaki can make it much easier to add Ajax to Java applications.

The other very interesting announcement is Phobos, a JavaScript-based application server for Java, created by Roberto Chinnici:

Project Phobos is a lightweight, scripting-friendly, web application environment running on the Java platform, aimed at addressing emerging developer requirements. Scripting and dynamic languages are growing in popularity among developers, especially for building Web applications. These developers place special value on rapid application development and deployment.

The goal of Project Phobos is to show that Java is an excellent platform for server-side scripting, allowing dynamic-language developers to leverage the power of Java SE and EE. The initial focus for Project Phobos is JavaScript, but the design supports the use of other dynamic languages as well.

Phobos uses Rhino, a Java-based JavaScript engine, and supports embedding JavaScript inside web page templates much like Ruby in Rails apps or Java in JSP apps. It’s a bit of a mind-bender to imagine JavaScript on the page executing in the client along side JavaScript executing on the server; even cooler: having the server-side JavaScript emit JavaScript eval’d on the client at run-time. Yikes!

Another eyebrow-raiser is that Phobos doesn’t reside within a Java EE container; its a stand-alone app server that competes (conceptually) with a servlet container. What is Sun up to?

We can’t help but be intrigued by the idea. So many of us are becoming JavaScript experts because of all the client-side work we’re doing; it sure is nice to be able to apply that knowledge to the server-side as well, and gaining tight integration with the rest of the Java platform as well as being able to compile the scripting code to bytecode for JIT compilation by the Java run-time sure is nice too (Phobos supports both interpreting JavaScript and compiling it).

Phobos is a research project that isn’t yet ready for download (because of licensing issues). Sun is also still working out the governance model for it. Look for another posting in a couple of weeks for more details.

Posted by Ben Galbraith at 1:56 am
11 Comments

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