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Is the Google Web Toolkit Right For You? 163

An anonymous reader writes "The recently released Google Web Toolkit (GWT) is a comprehensive set of APIs and tools that lets you create dynamic Web applications almost entirely in Java code. However, GWT is something of an all-or-nothing approach, targeted at a relatively small niche in Web application development market. This article shows you what GWT can do and will help you decide if it's the best tool to use for your web development."
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Is the Google Web Toolkit Right For You?

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  • Short answer: No. (Score:3, Informative)

    by xxxJonBoyxxx ( 565205 ) on Wednesday June 28, 2006 @10:53AM (#15621095)
    GWT does have a couple of fairly significant flaws. First among them is its lack of provision for graceful degradation. Best practice in modern Web application development is to create pages that work without JavaScript, and then use it where available to embellish and add extra behavior. In GWT, if JavaScript isn't available, you won't get any UI at all.

    In other words, if you want to make sure your site "just works", GWT isn't a good technology to use. If your management team is paying attention, that should pretty much stick a fork in this technology.

  • by stratjakt ( 596332 ) on Wednesday June 28, 2006 @11:01AM (#15621162) Journal
    When I hear someone say what you said I think... "another hack who's never programmed anything, never will, but read some shit on slashdot about it and now believes he's an expert"

    There's plenty of unreadable, unusable OO code out there, as well as plenty of well performing Java.
  • by stratjakt ( 596332 ) on Wednesday June 28, 2006 @11:15AM (#15621272) Journal
    That's because that's what it is.

    From TFA: GWT essentially exploits the browser as a run-time environment for lightweight GUI applications, and the result is much closer to what you might develop with Morfik, OpenLaszlo, or even Flash, than to normal Web applications

    It seems more suitable for client development in intranet-type situations, rather than for stuff to go on the web at large. GWT is walled off from the traditional web page, it seems, and the article says there's no way to take values out of widgets to use in a form submission.

    It's interesting, the company I'm working for finally caught "browser based applications" fever, and this is another possible platform we could use. Of course since we aren't a Java house, we'll end up using ASP.NET.

  • by Hoolala ( 976766 ) on Wednesday June 28, 2006 @11:22AM (#15621344) Homepage

    There are developers who still use VI for Web developments :)

    GWT is the heavy favorite to serve as the core for our new webapp.


    Beaches & Casinos: http://buddytrace.com/ [buddytrace.com]

  • Re:Accessibility? (Score:5, Informative)

    by xxxJonBoyxxx ( 565205 ) on Wednesday June 28, 2006 @11:24AM (#15621354)
    If I had mod points today, I'd boost you up. If you go by the ADA provisions*, I think you need to provide enough content in plain old HTML code and text (Javascript doesn't count) so that all the content is available inline and enough links, text boxes and other items (also in plain old HTML code) so that someone can navigate your entire site without any Javascript.

    *Section 508 Standards for Electronic and Information Technology;
    SubSection 1194
  • by Penguin Programmer ( 241752 ) on Wednesday June 28, 2006 @11:45AM (#15621548) Homepage
    I would never, ever, ever even _think_ of trying to write an Ajax application. I hate javascript way too much for that, and the whole asynchronous web-page dynamicness scares the shit out of me. However, I can stand writing GUI code in Java, and I already have some knowledge of how it works. GWT enables me to write super-cool Ajax websites without worrying a bit about javascript. I think this is the true power of GWT: it enables _application_ developers (rather than web developers) to write nice web applications without learning a whole new skillset. This is a win for developers because we can do cool things without learning a whole new trade, and it's a win for consumers because web apps can be written by skilled application developers instead of photoshop gurus.

    Also, just because GWT provides some server-side machinery doesn't mean you have to use it. GWT will happily make asynchronous calls to any old URL, so you can write your backend in PHP or Perl or C or whatever you like. Personally, I've been playing with GWT using PHP/SQLite as my backend (following Juan Hurtado's great tutorial [googlepages.com]). It works great, and since I'm already comfortable with Java, PHP and SQL, it doesn't require a steep learning curve to create very nice web apps.

    That said, I will certainly be taking a deeper look at TFA later and perhaps following its example to learn how to use the Java server-side machinery. Could be interesting.
  • Re:Accessibility? (Score:2, Informative)

    by NutscrapeSucks ( 446616 ) on Wednesday June 28, 2006 @12:06PM (#15621679)
    Well, I'm glad that someone finally provided a reference to this claim that Javascript is somehow prohibited by the ADA. But you have completely misreprsented what the regulations state -- there is NOT a prohibition on javascript navigation:

    When pages utilize scripting languages to display content, or to create interface elements, the information provided by the script shall be identified with functional text that can be read by assistive technology.

    So, basically your script navigation has to provide text labels or alt tags, which they nearly always do.
  • Re:GWT vs. Echo2 (Score:3, Informative)

    by distributed ( 714952 ) on Wednesday June 28, 2006 @02:30PM (#15622923) Journal
    The team I used to work for 3 years ago wanted a web gui layer framework similar to this back then.. and i remember Echo 1.x was one of the first ones we prototyped. Then there also was millstone http://www.millstone.org/ [millstone.org] And i think echo was also featured on slashdot http://developers.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=03/0 9/09/2337216 [slashdot.org]
    Echo 2.x seems to have now added support for ajax.. a demo is available here: http://demo.nextapp.com/Demo/app [nextapp.com] ..and it runs smoother than the ajax controls found on flickr atleast. In the end it seemed that the world wasnt ready for this... and higher management didnt like the risk associated with trying something completely new.

Competence, like truth, beauty, and contact lenses, is in the eye of the beholder. -- Dr. Laurence J. Peter