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AJAX Enthusiasts Unite

Doug Caverly
Staff Writer
Published: 2006-05-23

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Proponents of Asynchronous JavaScript and XML-style development have formed a group to advance their goals. The OpenAJAX Alliance attracted some influential individuals and corporations, including IBM and Zimbra.

The collaborative effort wants to broaden the adoption of AJAX by concentrating on three primary goals: providing interoperability, and thus decreasing the risk of adoption; ensuring that AJAX solutions utilize open-source technology and obey open-source standards; and maintaining the Internet's open nature.

As one might surmise after seeing how important "open" concepts are to the group, OpenAJAX Alliance is not trying to set itself forth as a dominant force. "We decided to keep it informal," said Coach Wei, chief technology officer of Nexaweb Technologies. "We're not going to make it a corporation or a formal organization. We don't want to become a standards organization or an open-source hosting organization like Eclipse or Apache. But we will work with groups like the W3C [World Wide Web Consortium] for standards and Eclipse and Apache for open-source projects."

Scott Dietzen, president and chief technology officer of Zimbra, had something to say about the themes of OpenAJAX. "We need to clearly define AJAX; clarify the mission of OpenAJAX; endorse and improve AJAX platform technologies; endorse and improve AJAX design patterns; and last, but not least, improve the browser," Dietzen wrote. He also stressed the need for AJAX to remain multiclient, multibrowser, multiserver, and multilanguage/container on the server.

Dietzen went on to comment that he feels the "competition for the hearts and minds of developers between Visual Studio and Eclipse; between IE and Firefox; and between Atlas and Kabuki, Dojo, et al. is good for all. At the same time, I think it is generally going to be increasingly hard for other proprietary vendors to find a sweet spot between Microsoft and open source."

Wei said a new AJAX tool is on the way in the form of aRex. Made by Nexaweb, and promoted as "a declarative framework for building AJAX-based rich Internet applications that does not require developers to be expert in DHTML, JavaScript or XmlHttpRequest technologies," aRex should be released by year's end.

Nexaweb has also developed something called XAP, according to Wei. Submitted to the Apache Foundation as a potential standard, XAP is "an open-source declarative framework for building Web 2.0 applications that . . . is designed to leverage existing AJAX projects." Wei says the company isn't trying to stake a claim, stating, "We don't want an open-source project owned by one company like Nexaweb."

"One missing component is a declarative way of doing AJAX components in the open-source world," Wei added. "So we are willing to make this contribution to the community." With members like this, the OpenAJAX Alliance would seem to be off to a strong start.

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