Agile Computing Authors: Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski, William Schmarzo, Zakia Bouachraoui, Liz McMillan

Related Topics: Agile Computing, Machine Learning

Agile Computing: Article

Web 2.0 Design: The Ajax Spectrum

Yesterday I had the pleasure of talking with key people from two Ajax providers

Yesterday I had the pleasure of talking with key people from two Ajax providers, TIBCO General Interface's Kevin Hakman and Zapatec Ajax Suite's Dror Matalan.  Each company has two quite different approaches to designing Ajax-enabled software and it highlighted an increasingly clear divide in the way that people are thinking about online software.  In these early days of Web 2.0, the best methods of building applications are still more art than science.  But as the Ajax development tools mature they are falling into two general approaches that have far reaching ramifications for Web 2.0 software design, reuse, and adoption.  Since these tools make architectural choices that can cut different ways with long-term effect, it means Web 2.0 software designers have to some weighty choices to make before they decide how to proceed.

One thing is clear from these tools though, Ajax has come into its own in 2006. More and more people are recognizing that it forms a true software platform for the Web.  To demonstrate what's possible, the more mature Ajax toolkits, like General Interface, are actually entirely constructed in Ajax themselves.  Thus Ajax is far more than an approach to Web user interaces; it's a complete software environment, something more akin to a Windows or Linux though far lighter.

Beyond the simple DHTML wizardry that allows an Ajax Web page to change in real-time before your eyes without reloading, Ajax has the ability to reach out and collect data from Web services (via server proxy).  And it can help weave the results from multiple sources into composite software that folks are calling mashups.  The whole mashup phenomenon heavily favors Ajax because of the power of JavaScript and XSLT allow the lightweight fusion of information right in the browser, making an Ajax application a sum greater than it's parts.  This is partially what is meant by the Web 2.0 concept of software above the level of a single device.

For these reasons and others, Ajax provides key capabilities that Web 2.0 software needs.  But depending on what you're trying to accomplish, you'll need select the right Ajax approach, and that's still the tough part.  Web 2.0 isn't about technology in the end, but you will need it to build the software and you'll want tools that guide you down the right path.

As I spoke to Kevin and Dror yesterday it became clear to me that the approaches to Ajax are increasingly falling into two ends of a continuous spectrum.  On one end we have full, self-contained frameworks that provide an integrated, and enclosing, solution and on the other there are lightweight Ajax pieces that can be included and woven together with other pieces.  One of the Web 2.0 memes is small pieces, loosely joined, and this makes deciding between the comprehensive approach that General Interface, Atlas, or Backbase provide - versus more blendable solutions - a key pivot point in the design process.

Kevin Hackman, co-founder of General Interface, has himself has written about the trade-offs in the different approaches to using Ajax in The Four "Quantum States" of Ajax and he cited it in our conversation yesterday.  But as I discussed the merits of Zapatek's newly announced Ajax Suite with company president Dror Matalan, he made it clear he believed that providing granularity and choice to developers was one of the biggest strengths of his product.  Dror said his tools "go deep" but don't levy a complexity tax or vendor lock-in and can easily co-exist with other pieces.

Of course, different applications have different requirements.  The larger Ajax tools will favor those who want a more traditional monolothic view of software or need more plumbing and infrastructure to connect to legacy systems, particularly behind the firewall.  The smaller, more agile and inclusive Ajax approaches like script.aculo.us and Dojo will no doubt be much more popular on the greater World-Wide Web.  I expect that public Web 2.0 software in particular will become an increasingly sophisticated yet loosely-coupled blend of snippets and lightweight Javascript libraries.  Tools that don't enable this, much less support it, will probably have a harder time if they pose any barrier to adding compelling features to software. 

And as people increasingly pick up on the vibrancy and utility of the mashups world, and we figure out better ways to locate them when we need them, the demand for software that is more malleable and easily changeable is going to increase.  And here's the kicker: Web 2.0 software elements that can be recombined with a simple JavaScript include, like Google Maps, will succeed much more readily in this new remix culture over those that don't.  Any solution that precludes such frictionless participation and reuse will just have an increasingly hard time getting marketshare.  If there's one thing that we've learned in the last couple of years is that we should expect and encourage unintended uses.

Where do you think it's going?  Small pieces that are quickly and easily composable, or sophisticated solutions that do everything?

Another sidenote:  We're urgently seeking commercial Ajax authors for an exciting short-term project.  Contact me for more details.

More Stories By RIA News Desk

Ever since Google popularized a smarter, more responsive and interactive Web experience by using AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript + XML) for its Google Maps & Gmail applications, SYS-CON's RIA News Desk has been covering every aspect of Rich Internet Applications and those creating and deploying them. If you have breaking RIA news, please send it to [email protected] to share your product and company news coverage with AJAXWorld readers.

Comments (1)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.

IoT & Smart Cities Stories
At CloudEXPO Silicon Valley, June 24-26, 2019, Digital Transformation (DX) is a major focus with expanded DevOpsSUMMIT and FinTechEXPO programs within the DXWorldEXPO agenda. Successful transformation requires a laser focus on being data-driven and on using all the tools available that enable transformation if they plan to survive over the long term. A total of 88% of Fortune 500 companies from a generation ago are now out of business. Only 12% still survive. Similar percentages are found throug...
Apptio fuels digital business transformation. Technology leaders use Apptio's machine learning to analyze and plan their technology spend so they can invest in products that increase the speed of business and deliver innovation. With Apptio, they translate raw costs, utilization, and billing data into business-centric views that help their organization optimize spending, plan strategically, and drive digital strategy that funds growth of the business. Technology leaders can gather instant recomm...
OpsRamp is an enterprise IT operation platform provided by US-based OpsRamp, Inc. It provides SaaS services through support for increasingly complex cloud and hybrid computing environments from system operation to service management. The OpsRamp platform is a SaaS-based, multi-tenant solution that enables enterprise IT organizations and cloud service providers like JBS the flexibility and control they need to manage and monitor today's hybrid, multi-cloud infrastructure, applications, and wor...
The Master of Science in Artificial Intelligence (MSAI) provides a comprehensive framework of theory and practice in the emerging field of AI. The program delivers the foundational knowledge needed to explore both key contextual areas and complex technical applications of AI systems. Curriculum incorporates elements of data science, robotics, and machine learning-enabling you to pursue a holistic and interdisciplinary course of study while preparing for a position in AI research, operations, ...
CloudEXPO has been the M&A capital for Cloud companies for more than a decade with memorable acquisition news stories which came out of CloudEXPO expo floor. DevOpsSUMMIT New York faculty member Greg Bledsoe shared his views on IBM's Red Hat acquisition live from NASDAQ floor. Acquisition news was announced during CloudEXPO New York which took place November 12-13, 2019 in New York City.
Codete accelerates their clients growth through technological expertise and experience. Codite team works with organizations to meet the challenges that digitalization presents. Their clients include digital start-ups as well as established enterprises in the IT industry. To stay competitive in a highly innovative IT industry, strong R&D departments and bold spin-off initiatives is a must. Codete Data Science and Software Architects teams help corporate clients to stay up to date with the mod...
The Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) is a non-profit organization that provides business support services to companies expanding to Japan. With the support of JETRO's dedicated staff, clients can incorporate their business; receive visa, immigration, and HR support; find dedicated office space; identify local government subsidies; get tailored market studies; and more.
Tapping into blockchain revolution early enough translates into a substantial business competitiveness advantage. Codete comprehensively develops custom, blockchain-based business solutions, founded on the most advanced cryptographic innovations, and striking a balance point between complexity of the technologies used in quickly-changing stack building, business impact, and cost-effectiveness. Codete researches and provides business consultancy in the field of single most thrilling innovative te...
Atmosera delivers modern cloud services that maximize the advantages of cloud-based infrastructures. Offering private, hybrid, and public cloud solutions, Atmosera works closely with customers to engineer, deploy, and operate cloud architectures with advanced services that deliver strategic business outcomes. Atmosera's expertise simplifies the process of cloud transformation and our 20+ years of experience managing complex IT environments provides our customers with the confidence and trust tha...
With the introduction of IoT and Smart Living in every aspect of our lives, one question has become relevant: What are the security implications? To answer this, first we have to look and explore the security models of the technologies that IoT is founded upon. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Nevi Kaja, a Research Engineer at Ford Motor Company, discussed some of the security challenges of the IoT infrastructure and related how these aspects impact Smart Living. The material was delivered interac...