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Open Source AJAX toolkits 147

twofish writes "InfoWorld columnist Peter Wayner recently reviewed six of the most popular "open source" Ajax toolkits. The article sets out to see if they are enterprise ready in comparison to commercial products such Backbase, JackBe, and Tibco's General Interface. The six open source projects covered were selected because each has a high-profile in the developer community and support of one or more stable organizations. "
The toolkits covered are:
  1. Dojo
  2. Google Web Toolkit
  3. Microsoft Atlas
  4. Open Rico and Prototype
  5. Yahoo AJAX Library
  6. Zimbra Kabuki AJAX Toolkit

Whilst the definition of open source is broad, the round-up is quite helpful.
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Open Source AJAX toolkits

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  • "Open source?" (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cbiffle ( 211614 ) on Monday August 07, 2006 @11:22AM (#15859113)
    This column uses an interesting definition of Open Source.

    From the article:
    Microsoft's Atlas may not be open source -- the license includes terms that would rankle a devotee -- but the code you create with the system is yours to license as you like, and you'll be able to create Atlas apps with few practical restrictions.

    Oh. Is that what Open Source means? That I can create apps with it and license them how I like? Well, crap, Visual Studio must be open source too!

    Last I checked, neither Atlas nor GWT were open source in any sense of the word, though at least GWT will run on real servers.
    • Re:"Open source?" (Score:5, Interesting)

      by achacha ( 139424 ) on Monday August 07, 2006 @11:30AM (#15859143) Homepage
      The only reason large corporations push some toolkit as "open source" is because:

      1. It's a crappy product that their marketing people cannot justify as promotion cost
      2. There are better free products
      3. They are trying to get their foot into the niche so they can then charge for the "Professional" version
      4. They don't understand the space yet

      This is common for Microsoft and now becoming common for Google.

      Sadly AJAX is still the "silver bullet" of web based companies and the buzzword of the moment. So many companies are using AJAX for the sake of using it despite the fact it is not applicable to the ir use case; sometimes it is easier to wedge something in and use a buzzword to sound cool and relevant.
      • Re:"Open source?" (Score:3, Interesting)

        by hey! ( 33014 )
        5. Because they can't allow a hostile competitor to obtain control over a piece of software infrastructure that is critical to them.

        i.e., they have learned the lesson of Borland.

        e.g., Oracle can't survive in the long term if Microsoft gains control over server platforms

        e.g., IBM can't survive inthe long term if they have to use Microft's own tools to complete with it.

        So: yes, support of open source is self interested in cases like these. But not necessarily cynical or pernicious.
      • MS started in this route after their black eye from the 3rd party Ajax .Net [] and Anthem .Net []. Developers started asking about "AJAX" support really late in the .Net v2.0 (Visual Studio 2005) pre-release cycle. Afaik Atlas will probably be one of the primary forms of AJAX-style web development (partial to atlas, and some roll my own), along with Ruby On Rails.

        I don't necessarily think it will be the best solution. The yahoo tools are really more D/HTML client-side tools, and not sure where they fit into
      • There's several more important reasons:
        • They produce the toolkit as an incidential when developing something else, and want the chance to get feedback and patches to it. This is much of the same reasoning as many open source developers (people) use.
        • They want the internal morale boost among employees that many people get from going open source.
        • They want to improve their public image.


    • by HugePedlar ( 900427 ) on Monday August 07, 2006 @11:34AM (#15859170) Homepage
      "Whilst the definition of open source is broad, the round-up is quite helpful."

      Hemos appears to have misspelt "incorrect" as "broad".
    • Just because you can write OSS with a program does not make that program OSS unless the source of said program is, you know, open! I'm surprised that /. would post a story like this.
    • Re:"Open source?" (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Conrad ( 600139 ) on Monday August 07, 2006 @11:50AM (#15859283)
      Last I checked, neither Atlas nor GWT were open source in any sense of the word,
      But you can download the Atlas source code [] and at first glance the licence [] meets the Open Source [] definition: it's a simple no endorsement, no liability, no patent disputes licence. So what's the problem?
    • Several parts of GWT are actually open source. The trouble is that the Java to JavaScript converter is proprietary, and the rest is pretty much useless without that part. So while GWT technically is largely open source, for practical purposes it might as well be proprietary.
    • It's pretty interesting, actually, that Open Source (once a synonym in the enterprise arena to crappy software, like the sharewares of the 90's) has became a trendy word and is used to give projects some kind of being-cool status.

      I see it at work on a daily basis, when I say that the project I'm working in is based on OS software I always get the you-must-be-a-top-software-engineer look (and pretty much the same happens with AJAX and old engineers that are kinda scared because they don't understand why ever
  • Java != Javascript (Score:5, Interesting)

    by andrewman327 ( 635952 ) on Monday August 07, 2006 @11:26AM (#15859133) Homepage Journal
    From TFA: "[...] JavaScript is pretty close to a superset of Java[...]. It's not complicated to strip away some typing information from the Java code and end up with something that resembles JavaScript."

    This is in response to Google's toolkit, which allows users to code in Java instead of Javascript. I think this feature is a real winner to Java coders. Who wants to code Javascript when you can use Swing? Regardless of what TFA says, there is a difference between the two programming experiences.

    In summary, if you are already proficient in Java, Google is the way to go.

    • by StarvingSE ( 875139 ) on Monday August 07, 2006 @11:33AM (#15859166)
      The author of TFA is just dumb and doesn't know what he is talking about. First he says that Microsoft Atlas is open source. Then, it sounds like he truly believes that Java and Javascript are related in some way. Besides some similar syntax, they are both mutually exclusive.

      when are people going to realize that Javascript and Java share only a name???
      • by andrewman327 ( 635952 ) on Monday August 07, 2006 @11:42AM (#15859224) Homepage Journal
        The confusion of Java and Javascript is one of my biggest pet peeves in computer science. I am fairly proficient in Java, but I still have to look up which command to use the once a year I actually write in Javascript. Google's engineers worked hard to design a system to convert Java into another format only to have this journalist completely disregard it.

        It's times like these that I am glad I get to tag articles.

        • by Selanit ( 192811 ) on Monday August 07, 2006 @12:59PM (#15859767)
          An early development version of JavaScript was code-named "mocha." All the way through the old 4.x series of Netscape Navigator, you could access the JavaScript console by typing "mocha:" in the address bar. How I wish they had just adopted that name for the language as a whole! It would have prevented so much confusion.
        • I'm just the opposite. Java is just a bastardized C++, which is a beyond-bastardized C. JavaScript is a real language -- it's a bit like Ruby, kind of a Lisp in C's clothing.
          • I hate to get into a flame war, but Java stands on its own as a great programming language. My point is, however, that Java coders will feel much more comfortable using Google's software than the competition.
      • I second that motion!

        This author is obviously not a developer.

        "This isn't as magical as it sounds because JavaScript is pretty close to a superset of Java, at least in a cosmetic sense. It's not complicated to strip away some typing information from the Java code and end up with something that resembles JavaScript."

        uuuh this is totally besides the point, even if it IS false. Forget about this idea that the toolkit converts java code to javascript (which in itself doesn't make any sense).

        The point is you can
      • by stu42j ( 304634 )
        The history of JavaScript from its inventor: innovators_be.html []

    • by Anonymous Coward
      Who wants to code Javascript when you can use Swing?

      Google did not write a Swing API for JavaScript. That would be incredibly complicated and not worth their time. As you can see here [], only some classes in the java.util and java.lang packages are supported, and some of them do not have identical APIs due to the differences between Java and JavaScript. The user interface can be written using GWT's components [].
    • Who wants to code Javascript when you can use Swing?

      Isn't that a bit like saying "Who wants to get hit by a bicycle when you can get run over by an SUV?"
  • Erm... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by savala ( 874118 ) on Monday August 07, 2006 @11:32AM (#15859152)
    If you want to add AJAX to the magic collection of buzzwords supported by your Web site (and who can resist the siren call of the latest buzzword?), then you have two major options: purchase a proprietary package or experiment with open source libraries.

    Or just write the ten lines needed to do XMLHttpRequest calls yourself (there, that's the AJAX part taken care of), and for all other effects write your own functions just like always (copy/paste from your personal library and adapt), so you don't have to deal with bloat, nine out of every ten functions being unneeded, and far too many levels of abstraction and generalization, and have the benefit of actually being able to quickly debug the script when you encounter a problem!

    The only organizations where these toolkits might be useful are the really really large ones where there's a team that can dig into the framework and basically "make it their own". Everything smaller, using occasional contractors to maintain the code, benefit far and far more from simplicity, readability and maintainability than from dubious-quality top-heavy frameworks with lack of code-level documentation and thousand and one edgecase-bugs. (Spoken like someone who's had to trace such bugs in the mess of prototype and; I've only _looked_ at Dojo, Rico, Yahoo and Zimbra (and not at all at the other two), but my impressions were that what they made up in better code quality, they lost in bloat.)

    • Re:Erm... (Score:3, Interesting)

      <i>and for all other effects write your own functions just like always (copy/paste from your personal library and adapt)</i>

      Or you just do exactly what digg does and take your own javascript library and include everything you possibly can do "just in case".
      I'm actually surprised kitchenSink.js isn't included.

      This is just an example from the standard front screen of digg without any cookies or logins to concern itself with.

      <script src="/js/spellChecker.js" type="text/javascript">
      • Nice to see that they forgot that the MIME type for JavaScript is "application/javascript"...
        • Re:Erm... (Score:3, Informative)

          by Bogtha ( 906264 )

          Nice to see that they forgot that the MIME type for JavaScript is "application/javascript"...

          Forgot? The media types for JavaScript were only standardised this year []. Before April, application/javascript was merely a common convention - and actually a less common convention than text/javascript, which is also an acceptable (if deprecated) media type for JavaScript according to the RFC.

          So a) there wasn't anything to "forget", and b) they aren't doing anything wrong anyway.

        • Just be glad they're not using language="Javascript" without a MIME-type at all..

    • Re:Erm... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by slindseyusa ( 942823 ) on Monday August 07, 2006 @11:48AM (#15859276)
      I used to agree with this, until I spent some more time looking into it. Certainly XMLHttpRequest is the most powerful aspect of Ajax and it is easy to use. But Ajax generally comprises much more than that. The Dynamic HTML part can get quite confusing, especially across browsers. Look at the examples of what some of these projects can do. They are certainly big and sometimes bloated. I'm still struggling with that part as well, but I don't have the time to figure out all the details when a toolkit can handle that for me. It's no different than using a high level language and libraries, or should I write all my code in Assembly?
    • Re:Erm... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by tenchiken ( 22661 )
      As someone who has tried to do what you suggest, and then worked in pain to deal with all of the cross browser issues, the strange XMLHttpRequest behavior, systems for relability,etc, the bloat is well worth it.
    • Re:Erm... (Score:2, Informative)

      by ukleafer ( 845880 )

      dig into the framework and basically "make it their own".

      just an aside, but any modification of the framework code itself in GWT (maybe some of the others too?) is a breach of the T&C that the developer accepted before downloading the kit.

    • Maybe take a look at []. At 110 kilobytes, the full distribution isn't super small, but it includes quite a bit of stuff and can be used in a more modular fashion to save on size.
    • Re:Erm... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by saltydogdesign ( 811417 ) on Monday August 07, 2006 @12:36PM (#15859609)
      In my experience, prototype and Dojo are both very stable at this point, far more stable than would be any comparable library of my own making, as I don't have a team of developers or a large body of users available to test it for me. You think there's a thousand and one edgecase bugs in prototype? How many are in your personal library? I'd far rather rely on something that has been seen and used by a thousand people than something that's been seen and used by one.

      As for the usefulness of these toolkits, weighing in at 53k (considerably less if you were to use any of the js compacting methods available out there), I find prototype to be an enormous time-saver, and the code saved in my applications goes a great distance toward offsetting the one-time 53k download for users of my websites.

      Look, if I took your logic, the next time I wrote an OS X app, I'd write it from scratch in C, without the benefit of the Mac frameworks, and cut and paste from "my own personal library." And I'd probably want to compile it by hand too -- God knows what kind of code the compiler is actually generating, right?

      There is a tremendous advantage to abstraction and generalization -- indeed, we'd still be coding ones and zeros if we didn't have it. Sure, you can take it too far too fast, but as one who has done a lot of coding with javascript since not long after its inception, I can tell you that unless you're not doing anything much more complicated than rollovers, it's time to move up. Whether you want to do that with community code or your personal collection is up to you, but I'd like to have a little free time at the end of the day.
      • Re:Erm... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Bogtha ( 906264 ) on Monday August 07, 2006 @01:40PM (#15860018)

        It depends what you are using it for. For a complex DHTML interface for a web application that people use on a regular basis, sure, ~50KB isn't a big deal, especially when it's usually going to be coming from their cache. But for an average website that just wants to enhance particular aspects of their interface, it's ludicrous to make visitors download all that JavaScript, most of which will remain unused.

        The Digg example LiquidCoooled posted is a good one. The Digg developers seem to have paid no attention to efficiency, they just dump everything they might ever possibly use onto every page regardless of whether they use one function or twenty. For instance, they reference a 36KB drag and drop library on every page on their site, but I don't see them actually using any drag and drop anywhere - do you? Or how about the fact that they reference aboutdigg.js on every page despite the fact that the code is only ever used on one specific page which most visitors aren't ever going to visit anyway?

        Sure, there are a lot of instances where it's a good idea to use a library. But I think a lot of the people using libraries like this are doing so because they want to cut corners, not because it's the right tool for the job.

        • Fair enough. I think your ire is best aimed at people who are just plain sloppy and don't think about what they are doing. Folks like that are a problem regardless of how great the tools are...

          That said, I can't speak to the Digg example, but I have seen plenty of large sites where it is worth it in terms of developer time to dump everything you might need everywhere rather than crafting the right set of functions for each page. I work for a university, and there's undoubtedly a lot of unused code on our si
        • Doing less work on the development end at the cost of slightly more download is very often the right choice.

          Developer time is expensive, download bandwidth is fairly cheap.


      • Sure, you can take it too far too fast,

        IMHO this is what prototype does, and why it shouldn't be lumped in with Dojo as being stable.

        Try this in a page with prototype included:

        var t = [5,'test',4,7];
        for(i in t)
        { j++

        alert('J is ' + j);

        You're going to get 'J is 5' back. To me, this is something that's part of the language primitives, and shouldn't be violated. That could easily mess up any other javascript library you've got.

        The other reason you mentioned doesn't really address the fact that you don't
        • Try this in a page with prototype included:

          ... various code...

          You're going to get 'J is 5' back. To me, this is something that's part of the language primitives.

          I presume that's a typo. You get 35 back.

          As for it being part of the language primitives, Javascript doesn't have an array primitive. It's just an object, and when you do for(i in t) you're iterating the properties of an object. The "incorrect" result could occur regardless of whether you use prototype -- all you have to do is add a proper

        • I'm sure no one is reading this anymore, but here's an excellent discussion of this "issue:"

 p t-associative-arrays-considered-harmful/

          A key passage: I am aware of the mitigating factors -- hell, I just enumerated them -- but complaining that Prototype "breaks" your ability to use Array as a hash is like complaining that Prototype "breaks" your ability to use String as a hash. It is not Prototype's fault that JavaScript does not deter this improper use, and

      • Prototype may be stable, but it is also unusable, at least where I work. It appears to be a great library, and they've implemented a lot of things definitely lacking in the JavaScript language, but unfortunately they did it by mangling the language's base objects, so a lot of our existing code will break if we try to use Prototype. ATLAS is even worse. And while they've both implemented a lot of neat things, neither offers anything remotely compelling enough to consider giving up our existing collection
        • Suit yourself. I've been doing non-trivial js since about 1997, and I do indeed have a codebase, but look: five years ago all my server-side processing was in Perl. Now, the vast majority of it is in PHP. Roll with the times. If I really thought my personal codebase was that valuable, I'd still be stuck in BASIC.

          As for prototype being great for people just jumping onto the AJAX bandwagon, if you think that, you really have not taken a good look at it. The AJAX bits are a small part of the whole -- most of i
          • five years ago all my server-side processing was in Perl. Now, the vast majority of it is in PHP.

            That's a different story. In the time that I'v been doing web development, I've used perl, pl/sql (as a server side programming language), mod_perl, php, cold_fusion, asp, and now am starting to use But in all that time, it has always been on JavaScript on the client side, and probably will continue to be for the forseeable future. Obviously the libraries evolve with time- the code I use (and write)
            • That's a different story...

              You missed the point, which is simply that sticking to a paradigm merely because you're invested in it is not always smart.

              I have looked a little more closely at ATLAS

              I'm not defending ATLAS.

              they broke some fundamental parts of the language

              I think that's hogwash. Javascript didn't include the prototype property because they liked the way it sounded -- it's meant to be used to extend existing objects. The only instances in which this should break people's code is a)

              • I could counter by saying that the writers of JavaScript didn't include the "for ... in" syntax because they liked the way it sounded, they intended it to be used to iterate over the members of an Object. (I agree with you that you should be using array.length whenever appropriate, but there are many cases where "for ... in" is still useful, or even necessary.) I'm not saying that they shouldn't have used the prototype property to extend objects, but they could have gotten the same benefits by making thei
                • Sure, but in how many languages do you iterate the members of an object and seriously expect it to return anything like array.length? It seems to me that returns exactly what I expect it to return, whether I'm using prototype or not -- the members of the array object that I'm iterating, not the elements of the array. That's not to say is not useful, rather, that you just can't expect cokes to come out of a candy machine.
    • If you actually know what you're doing, it's far, far better to either write your own code, or strip out the routines from an "established" package rather than deploy the package as a whole.

      The biggest problem with the toolkits that are coming out is that they're sacrificing runtime efficiency for programing efficiency. Case in point: just about every one of these toolkits have the asinine $(elementId) method as a shortcut for writing out document.getElementById(elementId). WHY? Do you really need a meth
      • > WHY? Do you really need a method look-up just to save yourself a few keystrokes of typing.

        For convenience. Which is what all languages are for. Yes, I'd like it if javascript had syntax macros, but no one notices the difference. I mean holy cow, listen to yourself, thundering from on high about the dire consequences of such minutae. Why is it so important to you?

        Anyway, if you're manipulating hundreds of elements every second and are concerned about the overhead of the $ method, perhaps javascript
        • Why is it so important to you?

          Because, as I already said, JavaScript is not a compiled language. Convience methods are strictly convenient for the programmer, not for the person on the other end of the pipe who's actually using the program. They couldn't give two shits if you saved yourself from future RSI. Because it's not a compiled langauge, convenience methods come at a cost of execution speed. Which means every cutesy $() or A() function is slowing down your user's environment. A lot? No, of cour
          • > One doesn't have to be manipulating hundreds of elements every second to see a performance hit.

            To get a performance hit from the indirection of $, you indeed do. Okay, perhaps dozens. In fact, some implementations of $ cache their result, so they end up faster than calling getElementByTagName every time. I dislike that optimization because it eats more memory than it has to (there was no limit on the cache in the version I saw), but fortunately it's easy to fix. Memory leaks are the bane of most ja
            • Okay, perhaps dozens.

              Yeah, dozens. Add into that the other shortcuts and it starts to feel bloaty.

              Better algorithms beat your curmudgeonly micro-optimizations every time.

              Better algorithms != programmer coding conveniences.

              Full page refreshes always lose for performance in my world, so I go with Ajax.

              Bully for you. So do I. You seem to be under the impression that I don't like AJAX, which couldn't be further from the truth. The banking application I wrote relies heavily on it for dynamic table generation
    • For my AJAX open source project (see sig), I took a similar approach uptil now. I needed to built a lot of AJAX functionality, and the question is, do you start from scratch or use one of the libraries? I started from scratch because 1) I needed the master the technique, 2) Libraries are bloated with load times needing load indicators.. I don't want that, 3) Own implementation does exactly like I want it with relatively little code, 4) These AJAX libs are fairly young, to built a framework around and it see
  • DWR (Score:5, Informative)

    by kevin_conaway ( 585204 ) on Monday August 07, 2006 @11:33AM (#15859160) Homepage

    If you're doing Java/J2EE work, you should really have a look at DWR []

    It makes it disgustingly simple to expose pretty much anything as AJAX calls

    • DWR is awesome, I truly like it.

      But, if you are really a Java web developer, I have what may be an even better suggestion: []

      Take a look at the AjaxParts Taglib (hit the javadocs link and you'll find it in the ajaxparts package). This is a completely codeless approach to AJAX. Configure all your AJAX events in an XML file, what you want to be sent to the server and what to do when the response comes back, drop some tags in your JSP, and your good to go. There is an introd
  • Huh? (Score:3, Funny)

    by LaughingCoder ( 914424 ) on Monday August 07, 2006 @11:33AM (#15859161)
    ... support of one or more stable organizations.

    Why do we care what horse-breeders think? I mean since when have they been the technical thought-leaders?
  • after reading the review, google seems to be the best for me, cause i already code in java. Using swing really makes sense, and simplifies the developer's job, instead of having to learn javascript. have to give it a shot sometime... and my friend recently used DOJO and said he found it easier that other toolkits. he is no newbie, so i guess its pretty flexible and detailed enough for serious use. but since i have no experience of using it, i cannot comment. Can some one please enlighten me if its good for
  • by Toreo asesino ( 951231 ) on Monday August 07, 2006 @11:37AM (#15859199) Journal
    Using Atlas for ( Fantastic framework; unbelievably simple.

    I took a normal form I built for an ordering-page (lot's of postbacks for updating various basket options, etc, etc), wrapped it in an atlas XML container (all of 10 seconds work), and Bob became my uncle - the entire thing was AJAX enabled, doing lightweight postbacks & updates instead instead of the usual full-page postbacks you normally get with page-events.

    And all the JS is cross-platform too - IE, FF, Safari, etc (allthough, sadly, no Opera support just yet).

    And the best thing is, for all you JavaScript haters is turning off JS in the browser just meant the page automatically reverted to full-blown postbacks instead; thus not limiting accesibility.

    Oh, and I understand you can link php into Atlas too, but I'm guessing there's other stuff out there for php aswell.
  • y []

    Carnage Blender []: Meet interesting people. Kill them.
  • Just did this myself (Score:5, Informative)

    by slindseyusa ( 942823 ) on Monday August 07, 2006 @11:41AM (#15859223)
    I just went through and evaluated most of these myself in the past week because of a new work project. Dojo is by far the best when looking at building a real web "application". The others have limitations (such as Google's toolkit which requires you to write your code in Java) or are focused too much on "flashy" stuff. Dojo provides dialog boxes, windows, an editor, and more. It still has bugs and is an early version, so you need to consider your audience and time frame. For example, I had a problem with FF 1.0.7 (even though they say it is supported) but I only need to support FF 1.5 and Safari 2. I'm building a complex web app for an internal audience and I can guarantee they'll have one of these 2 browsers. Still, it seems to have broader support than some of the others toolkits. While I'm jsut starting with it, I've been happy so far. There's little documentation but the examples are good enough to get you started.
  • If it doesn't include DWR [] (probably THE most popular Java AJAX toolkit) yet includes a Microsoft offering then the article is effectively rendered useless...

  • Echo2 is good! (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 07, 2006 @11:53AM (#15859308)
    What about Echo2 [] ?

    • Echo 2 is the most under-rated, under-hyped, under-exposed Web UI development framework around. Try it. It's how GUI development should be.
  • (Score:3, Informative)

    by LFS.Morpheus ( 596173 ) on Monday August 07, 2006 @12:00PM (#15859350) Homepage
    Why is that [] is left out of these comparisons? is behind the AJAX in most Ruby on Rails apps, but it can be used on its own. (As of Rails 1.1, Rails has special built-in support to make it even easier to use.)
  • ...make sure you check out qooxdoo.

    Its not the best known, but its one of the most promising toolkits in [very] active development. I've been involved (sort of -- following the mailing list) and its open source & very slick. []

    The 0.6 release is expected in the next day or so, and is a big jump over 0.5. The only area that is still a bit weak is the documentation, but there is a good group of developers working actively on getting that properly sorted for the next releas
  • by bryanbrunton ( 262081 ) on Monday August 07, 2006 @12:03PM (#15859371)
    As many have noted the article is really quite clueless. However, any review on Ajax toolkits is not complete with a mention of Direct Web Remoting [].

    Central idea behind DWR is it exposes methods of Java Beans over the web. Create a server side class and then call methods from javascript like this: MyBean.method(). It couldn't be simpler.

    I have used DWR in my just released online version of Risk, called Grand Strategy [].

  • Erm... what about? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I'm a little surprised that nobody has mentioned jQuery ( While it does AJAX, its much more than that, and lets you write some seriously concise script. There's also a lot of activity from Dean Edwards ( on the mailing list, which is probably a good thing. Also looks like it might be the only/first library to find a true solution to the whole cross-browser "window.onload" problem (as of version 1.0, currently in beta).
  • Kudos to Rico (Score:2, Insightful)

    by klenwell ( 960296 )
    I'd recently given myself a crash course in javascript for a site I was working on. Ended up using the moo.fx ( []) library with niftycube ( []) for the all important rounded corners. Checked out dojo but it seemed a little more than I needed. Also glanced at Yahoo.

    Looking over the packages listed here, I'm especially impressed with Rico. Single file used in conjunction with the prototype.js script. And a really excellent demo page:

    http://openri []
  • Yahoo YUI Toolkit (Score:5, Informative)

    by DeionXxX ( 261398 ) on Monday August 07, 2006 @12:19PM (#15859487)
    Personally I think the Yahoo YUI Toolkit [] is the best framework out there. It is commented very well, it is 100% cross browser compatible (they test on Opera, Firefox, Netscape, IE etc). It is fully supported by a team of engineers. They provide several versions of each script, so you can build your site with the -debug script, move to the normal script, and then when putting it on a live server, you include the minimzed script which is much smaller.
    • I'll second this endorsement. Actually, I don't like the way the yahoo toolkit is structured. I find it very awkward to dynamically generate widgets for my applications using it. So i went in search of alternatives. Tried a few kits... the ones i tried looked very promising with features, but every one failed pretty miserably for cross browser work, and did not degrade very gracefully. I went back to yahoo fairly quickly. Awkward, somewhat limited in its current widget set, but totally very solid code. The
  • My Own Survey (Score:2, Informative)

    by 2Wrongs ( 627651 )
    Just my experience, but they were all a little lacking (although I admit I'm a novice in AJAX).

    Rico's newsgroup was great; I got (friendly) answers within hours, but I'm not exaggerating when I say the documentation was the worst I've ever seen. If I had more time to play around, I would have stuck it out and helped (their community is cool), but I'm on the clock and need simple working examples.

    I briefly tried Atlas and was impressed with ease of use, but got hung up with bugs (it's beta, but will be a go
  • Hey, Anybody know that there is work in progress for strongly typed libraries (targeting javascript and php)? Watch [] and visit for information compiler/ [] cheers:)
  • There are two other, very active and famous scripts left behind:

    1. [] : That have many effects include in it and is used in Ruby []

    2. [] : An active library to help for ajax development.
  • Documentation (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Lord Ender ( 156273 ) on Monday August 07, 2006 @12:43PM (#15859664) Homepage
    I looked at some of these a while ago. Zimbra has one of the coolest demos. But many of these severely (or completely) lack documentation, which means they are not ready for anything but "mom's basement, no deadline" type projects.

    This stuff is really exciting, but until there is documentation, it is not worth mentioning at work.
    • Re:Documentation (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Selanit ( 192811 )
      Prototype [] has some pretty good documentation []. Also, it's pretty low-level, so it's easy to build into other stuff. Heck, Prototype is worth it just for the each() iterator method!

      Dojo's [] docs [] are very much hit-or-miss. Some features are pretty smoothly documented. Others are like navigating a trackless wilderness with no more than the sun and stars to guide you. Also, Dojo's annoying because it requires you to add non-standard attributes to your HTML in order to identify widgets. For example:


      • Re:Documentation (Score:2, Informative)

        by MConlon ( 246624 )

        Also, Dojo's annoying because it requires you to add non-standard attributes to your HTML in order to identify widgets. For example:

        <button dojoType="Button" widgetId="helloButton">Hello World!</button>

        dojoType? widgetId? Those ain't gonna pass no validator THIS little programmer knows of.

        Dojo's widgets can be defined using a separate namespace, "dojo", so your XHTML will validate. As in: <button dojo:type="Button" dojo:widgetId="helloButton">Hello World!</button>


  • Qooxdoo (Score:3, Informative)

    by valamaldoran ( 963960 ) on Monday August 07, 2006 @12:43PM (#15859665)
    I've tried Dojo and the Prototype derivatives - Moofx, Rico and Scriptaculous. I don't really like Dojo because it seems so basic. Moofx is pretty good for lightweight effects, and the weight factor for effects goes up with Rico and even more with Scriptaculous. Bad thing about Prototype based scripts is that it doesn't play well with others due to Prototype's large manipulation of core objects. Enter QOOXDOO. Qooxdoo surprised me with how advanced it was. And its free. It is definately the script anyone needs to build a complex user interface for any application, because its designed to look just like an application. Its documentation is sparse, but the development community is amazing. they respond very quickly, and are working hard to fill the gaps on the documentation. The latest version is a vast improvement. The examples are very diverse, showing all the possibilities this remarkable script can do. if you really want to see an advanced framework that looks incredibly awesome, check out Qooxdoo...
  • and there's probably a reason why; I'd like to hear how terrible it is.
  • ...go for MochiKit [], nuff said.
  • by leighklotz ( 192300 ) on Monday August 07, 2006 @04:15PM (#15861126) Homepage
    There are also toolkits and JavaScript apps that combine W3C standards with AJAX, letting you write a lot of the dynamic page stuff in a declarative fashion, using just markup (XHTML+XForms; I was an editor of the XForms 1.0 recommendation, but new revisions have come out; see []).

    The FormFaces [] OSS product is an entire XForms implementation done in JavaScript, running in the browser. You write your page in HTML with XForms markup, and FormFaces does the "HiJax" thing of re-writing it for you. You never need to use XmlHttpRequest, and you can interact with regular servers, RESTful services, etc., all via XML.

    Another product that does this, in a slightly different way, is AjaxForms. I just found out about it, but it looks pretty good. AjaxForms uses some server-side components to do the translation from strict XHTML+XForms markup into Ajax (HTML4+JavaScript), but they claim it can work in PHP and Tomcat servers. Again, FOSS, and available at [] []

    I recently implemented dynamic forms for weblogs and wikis, and did it using Chiba [], another FOSS product, that like AjaxForms does its conversion on the server, using Tomcat as a container.

    The Orbeon folks have a nice blog [] that shows how to use XForms (their implementation, the Mozilla extension [], or any of the other above toolkits) to accomplish typical dynamic page tasks such as listing countries and ISO codes [], or resizing flickr [] (also via formsplayer [].

  • Using AJAX in almost all cases is just a few lines of code, most of it identical from prject to project.... populating list boxes, content, etc. Its pretty simplistic... why do we need "tool-kits" for this?

    I mean, if you can't take 30 minutes to an hour (tops) to read a short book on AJAX concepts/examples then you really shouldn't be developing ANY web apps. Its not like this stuff is rocket science, or even a new idea/concept. How many years has this functionality been in IE? 5 or 6 years?

    The larger i
    • What exactly are you asking for here? Even if your optimistic claim is correct, and a web developer should be able to learn the fundamentals in an hour, then what? He's still going to want to create some sort of library that does what he needs. Sure, it will start out small and elegant. But then he starts finding corner cases, browser incompatibilities, lacking features, and bugs bugs bugs scattered all over his code. Why not just start with something that is featureful, well-designed, and not-sucky?

  • I'd like to advertise my own, unpopular javascript library:

    The ff javascript library []
    A ultra lightweight (below 7k normal / below 3k gzipped) javascript library offering crossbrowser support for:

    • AJAX requests
    • Events
    • DOM element class handling
  • APhPLIX [] is a toolkit for building Ajax web applications with a traditional GUI.
    It comes with a visual development studio web application for point and click application development, and it's all open source.

    I think there may be some similar proprietary products, but I don't think there are any other open source projects like it.

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