Welcome!

Agile Computing Authors: Liz McMillan, Harry Trott, Elizabeth White, Yeshim Deniz, Pat Romanski

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) View Comments

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.


Most Recent Comments
SYS-CON Italy News Desk 02/09/06 11:16:30 PM EST

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.

@ThingsExpo Stories
SYS-CON Events announced today that Golden Gate University will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Since 1901, non-profit Golden Gate University (GGU) has been helping adults achieve their professional goals by providing high quality, practice-based undergraduate and graduate educational programs in law, taxation, business and related professions. Many of its courses are taug...
SYS-CON Events announced today that CAST Software will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. CAST was founded more than 25 years ago to make the invisible visible. Built around the idea that even the best analytics on the market still leave blind spots for technical teams looking to deliver better software and prevent outages, CAST provides the software intelligence that matter ...
Recently, WebRTC has a lot of eyes from market. The use cases of WebRTC are expanding - video chat, online education, online health care etc. Not only for human-to-human communication, but also IoT use cases such as machine to human use cases can be seen recently. One of the typical use-case is remote camera monitoring. With WebRTC, people can have interoperability and flexibility for deploying monitoring service. However, the benefit of WebRTC for IoT is not only its convenience and interopera...
SYS-CON Events announced today that CA Technologies has been named “Platinum Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place October 31-November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. CA Technologies helps customers succeed in a future where every business – from apparel to energy – is being rewritten by software. From planning to development to management to security, CA creates software that fuels transformation for companies in the applic...
When shopping for a new data processing platform for IoT solutions, many development teams want to be able to test-drive options before making a choice. Yet when evaluating an IoT solution, it’s simply not feasible to do so at scale with physical devices. Building a sensor simulator is the next best choice; however, generating a realistic simulation at very high TPS with ease of configurability is a formidable challenge. When dealing with multiple application or transport protocols, you would be...
In his session at @ThingsExpo, Dr. Robert Cohen, an economist and senior fellow at the Economic Strategy Institute, presented the findings of a series of six detailed case studies of how large corporations are implementing IoT. The session explored how IoT has improved their economic performance, had major impacts on business models and resulted in impressive ROIs. The companies covered span manufacturing and services firms. He also explored servicification, how manufacturing firms shift from se...
WebRTC is the future of browser-to-browser communications, and continues to make inroads into the traditional, difficult, plug-in web communications world. The 6th WebRTC Summit continues our tradition of delivering the latest and greatest presentations within the world of WebRTC. Topics include voice calling, video chat, P2P file sharing, and use cases that have already leveraged the power and convenience of WebRTC.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Secure Channels, a cybersecurity firm, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Secure Channels, Inc. offers several products and solutions to its many clients, helping them protect critical data from being compromised and access to computer networks from the unauthorized. The company develops comprehensive data encryption security strategie...
An increasing number of companies are creating products that combine data with analytical capabilities. Running interactive queries on Big Data requires complex architectures to store and query data effectively, typically involving data streams, an choosing efficient file format/database and multiple independent systems that are tied together through custom-engineered pipelines. In his session at @BigDataExpo at @ThingsExpo, Tomer Levi, a senior software engineer at Intel’s Advanced Analytics ...
Internet-of-Things discussions can end up either going down the consumer gadget rabbit hole or focused on the sort of data logging that industrial manufacturers have been doing forever. However, in fact, companies today are already using IoT data both to optimize their operational technology and to improve the experience of customer interactions in novel ways. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Gordon Haff, Red Hat Technology Evangelist, shared examples from a wide range of industries – including en...
Detecting internal user threats in the Big Data eco-system is challenging and cumbersome. Many organizations monitor internal usage of the Big Data eco-system using a set of alerts. This is not a scalable process given the increase in the number of alerts with the accelerating growth in data volume and user base. Organizations are increasingly leveraging machine learning to monitor only those data elements that are sensitive and critical, autonomously establish monitoring policies, and to detect...
"We're a cybersecurity firm that specializes in engineering security solutions both at the software and hardware level. Security cannot be an after-the-fact afterthought, which is what it's become," stated Richard Blech, Chief Executive Officer at Secure Channels, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
To get the most out of their data, successful companies are not focusing on queries and data lakes, they are actively integrating analytics into their operations with a data-first application development approach. Real-time adjustments to improve revenues, reduce costs, or mitigate risk rely on applications that minimize latency on a variety of data sources. Jack Norris reviews best practices to show how companies develop, deploy, and dynamically update these applications and how this data-first...
Intelligent Automation is now one of the key business imperatives for CIOs and CISOs impacting all areas of business today. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Brian Boeggeman, VP Alliances & Partnerships at Ayehu, will talk about how business value is created and delivered through intelligent automation to today’s enterprises. The open ecosystem platform approach toward Intelligent Automation that Ayehu delivers to the market is core to enabling the creation of the self-driving enterprise.
The question before companies today is not whether to become intelligent, it’s a question of how and how fast. The key is to adopt and deploy an intelligent application strategy while simultaneously preparing to scale that intelligence. In her session at 21st Cloud Expo, Sangeeta Chakraborty, Chief Customer Officer at Ayasdi, will provide a tactical framework to become a truly intelligent enterprise, including how to identify the right applications for AI, how to build a Center of Excellence to ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Massive Networks will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Massive Networks mission is simple. To help your business operate seamlessly with fast, reliable, and secure internet and network solutions. Improve your customer's experience with outstanding connections to your cloud.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Datera, that offers a radically new data management architecture, has been named "Exhibitor" of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo ®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Datera is transforming the traditional datacenter model through modern cloud simplicity. The technology industry is at another major inflection point. The rise of mobile, the Internet of Things, data storage and Big...
Everything run by electricity will eventually be connected to the Internet. Get ahead of the Internet of Things revolution and join Akvelon expert and IoT industry leader, Sergey Grebnov, in his session at @ThingsExpo, for an educational dive into the world of managing your home, workplace and all the devices they contain with the power of machine-based AI and intelligent Bot services for a completely streamlined experience.
Because IoT devices are deployed in mission-critical environments more than ever before, it’s increasingly imperative they be truly smart. IoT sensors simply stockpiling data isn’t useful. IoT must be artificially and naturally intelligent in order to provide more value In his session at @ThingsExpo, John Crupi, Vice President and Engineering System Architect at Greenwave Systems, will discuss how IoT artificial intelligence (AI) can be carried out via edge analytics and machine learning techn...
In his session at @ThingsExpo, Arvind Radhakrishnen discussed how IoT offers new business models in banking and financial services organizations with the capability to revolutionize products, payments, channels, business processes and asset management built on strong architectural foundation. The following topics were covered: How IoT stands to impact various business parameters including customer experience, cost and risk management within BFS organizations.