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Vendors form collaborative to push Ajax

They hope to expand use of the technology in the open-source community

By Heather Havenstein
February 1, 2006 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - The market for Ajax (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML), a technique for developing interactive Web applications, is heating up with the announcement today that several vendors, including IBM, BEA Systems Inc., Borland International Inc., Novell Inc., Oracle Corp. and Red Hat Inc., have formed a collaborative to help push AJAX in the open-source community.
Called Open Ajax, the new group plans to contribute code and work together to promote the use of Ajax tools with which developers can build rich Internet applications. Those applications offer the rich content and interactive features of the desktop in software that can be accessed via a thin client. The tools essentially eliminate the need to refresh a Web page every time a user enters or receives new data. This can allow users to scroll through a virtual map or photographs, for example, without refreshing their browser screens.
IBM will propose to the collaborative that its Ajax Toolkit Framework be contributed to the Eclipse Foundation and the Mozilla Corp., said Rod Smith, vice president of emerging technologies at IBM. That framework supports multiple Ajax runtime tools and can be used to develop and debug applications. In addition, San Mateo, Calif.-based Zimbra Inc., which has been developing Ajax applications for two years, will make its Ajax runtime toolkit available to the community under Apache and Mozilla public licenses.
"This group is getting together to collaborate by donating open-source [code] ... to collaborate on the tools and seeing Ajax hit that next phase of adoption," Smith said. "Enterprises are now getting very interested in Ajax, but the tools lag behind the technology. Google surprised folks [with] how far you could push the browser in terms of Web interactivity. Ajax is a technology that is an extension to the client space, [similar to how] Web services have been to the [business-to-business] space."
Tony Baer, principal of New York City-based IT research firm OnStrategies, said Open Ajax is to Ajax what J2EE was to Java. It signals that the grass-roots growth of Ajax among developers has gained enough momentum to force vendors to take notice, he said. Developers were using Ajax on their own as a way to get away from static Web applications acting like "dumb terminals," where users had to click each time they wanted to refresh a page, according to Baer.
"[Ajax] has taken on a life of its own," he said. "It was a train leaving the station with or without [vendors]."
In addition, Microsoft upped the Ajax ante last year when it announced that it would support Ajax as an alternative



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