At the Web Builder 2.0 conference in Las Vegas, Zimbra’s president and chief technology officer, Scott Dietzen, emphasized a variety of AJAX and Web 2.0 technologies for developers and users, including the extension of AJAX to offline usage.
Despite AJAX’s problems, Dietzen said he favors it over other technologies such as Flash when it comes to the Web.
“There’s no other way to deliver a richly interactive experience on the Web,” said Dietzen, who was once CTO at BEA Systems Inc. “If you want the Web look and feel and the ability to mash up all sorts of other Web technologies, I think AJAX is the best fit.”
Zimbra, which was acquired by Yahoo Inc. earlier this year for $350 million, is a provider of collaboration and messaging software.
Dietzen did cite AJAX security issues such as cross-site scripting attacks, in which user data can get interpreted in the browser, creating a breach. Also noted as a security concern was use of source code in the browser.
“The goal for rich Internet applications at least ought to be to deliver the same level of security that we’ve delivered for Web applications, because to deliver less undermines user confidence in various ways,” he said. This is a goal that is close to being achieved, Dietzen said.
Browsers, meanwhile, also present challenges. They render the same HTML differently and were not designed for the load presented by AJAX; browsers have memory leaks and performance gaps, Dietzen said. But browsers are getting better, Dietzen said.
“Safari 3 is dramatically better,” he said.
Offline AJAX usage is a “hot topic,” Dietzen said. Zimbra now can be used offline, he said.
“The answer for occasionally connected apps is to provide a cache on the client side that allows the application to interact locally with a data set, and then synchronize over the network when the network is available,” said Dietzen.
But Zimbra used another approach. “What we did at Zimbra is we actually took Zimbra server code, which was written in Java, and we created a microserver that runs on my local client,” said Dietzen.
Dietzen mentioned the AJAX technique of AJAX Linking and Embedding (ALE), in which one document can be embedded inside another. This expands content-sharing.
He also cited a technique called “lazy loading,” which cuts down loading time for Web pages. With lazy loading, the page loads but other parts of the application, such as calendaring, are loaded only as needed.
Dietzen noted that Zimbra’s platform enables use of mashups — quickly assembled task-based applications deriving data from other, larger systems. Mashups get Dietzen’s vote as the killer app for Web 2.0.
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(InfoWorld) – While the landscape for rich Web development technologies is getting crowded, industry dignitaries at The Rich Web Experience conference in San Jose, Calif. Thursday nonetheless saw a place for the various entrants in this space.
Panelist Scott Davis, an author and consultant, said he originally thought that AJAX would rule the world. “It runs in any browser,” Davis said. But his horizons have expanded.
“Quite honestly, I’ve gotten really interested in Flex recently,” Davis said. The recent open-sourcing of Flex has made it more attractive, he stressed.
AJAX drew affirmations with reservations from panelist Jon Ferraiolo, an IBM Web architect who manages the OpenAjax Alliance. “My perspective is that AJAX works today. It’s fantastic, it does nearly everything you want to do except for multimedia types of things,” Ferraiolo said.
“I think there’s room for Flash, Flex; there’s room for Silverlight. These things are going to be the cutting-edge applications that require the latest features,” said Ferraiolo.
With the proliferation of mobile devices however, HTML browsing will not be available on all these systems, and the iPhone does not have Flash and probably will not have Silverlight either, said Ferraiolo. AJAX, however, is always there and is open and can be counted on, he said.
“There is a continuum of experience that needs to be looked at,” said Josh Holmes, an evangelist at Microsoft who is speaking on Silverlight at the conference. There is the standards-based Web with HTML and CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) and there is AJAX, he said. Moving on, there are platforms optimized for a particular OS or hardware that can render 3D graphics, said Holmes.
“My personal opinion is that Silverlight and Flex are definitely on that heavy, rich but not quite platform-optimized edge,” Holmes said. There are benefits to both, he said.
Another panelist sided with Flex for enterprise usage. “In the enterprise space, I tend to recommend things like Flex because the development is much faster to get up and going,” said Bill Scott, AJAX evangelist at Yahoo.
“Creating a desktop style [application] in AJAX is still really hard,” Scott said. AJAX does fit into a lot of areas, but none of the rich Web technologies will rule the world, he said.
Panelists also addressed the question of application-testing.
“Yes, testing is absolutely crucial, and as an industry, it’s something we have not taken seriously for the last couple of years,” Davis said.
“I think this is a space that the market realizes isn’t served really well right now,” said Ryan Breen, vice president of technology at Web performance tester Gomez.
The Crosscheck open-source testing platform was cited by panelist Stuart Holloway, co-founder of software developer Relevance.
“I’ve found that the overhead of a big heavy tool is less valuable to me than having something that’s easy for me to bring up, bring down, refresh,” Davis said. This lighter format seems to fit the Web development model, he said.
Panelists and an audience member also mourned the lack of staying power of SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics).
“SVG just breaks my heart,” Davis said. “SVG had the opportunity to be kind of a unified solution. I wish it would come back strong, but I’m not holding out hope.”
Silverlight, Holmes said, uses XAML instead of SVG. “My opinion is SVG has kind of stalled and there were some things that were needed beyond it,” so Silverlight uses other technologies instead, Holmes said.
Ferraiolo said he was one of the initiators of SVG while at Adobe. “SVG was there in 2001, 2002, but Adobe decided to pull the plug on it despite the fact that it was on 200 million desktops,” he said.
Chief exec Steve Jobs said Apple would release a version of the company’s Safari browser for Windows. Safari will also help with mobile applications for the iPhone, he said: “It’s all based on the fact that we have the full Safari engine in the iPhone…And so you can write amazing Web 2.0 and AJAX apps that look and behave exactly like apps on the iPhone, and these apps can integrate perfectly with iPhone services. They can make a call, check email, look up a location on Gmaps… don’t worry about distribution, just put ‘em on an internet server.”
Critics were disappointed, however, that this means developers will have to write two separate programs, one for the Macintosh computers and one for the iPhone. There’s more detailed coverage at Engadget, which carries the iPhone comments at the bottom.
Releasing iTunes on Windows has benefited Apple tremendously, so this is an extension of Apple’s strategy to embrace Windows.
Jobs also talked about Leopard, the company’s update to its Mac OS. Dean Takahashi of the Merc has a more succinct summary than Engadget’s live coverage — providing a look at the “Finder” and “Quick View” features, which make for easier file sharing and previewing compared to Microsoft’s Vista. Leopard’s widget feature, which lets you track changes at various Web sites directly from your desktop, is also more sophisticated than Vista’s equivalent. Leopard includes “BootCamp,” a way to let Mac users choose which operating system to run when they start their computers — Windows or Mac OS (see story by Troy Wolverton).
We have seen other companies taking photos of the content, but being able to walk around the Map was very cool. If I am visiting a new building, or area, I find myself checking out the area before I drive there, as it is a lot easier to find the end point if you have seen it, and walked around the outside.
There was also a release of Mapplets, which are embeddable Google Maps mashups. You are able to overlay multiple mashups onto the one map, which means that you can combine the old favourites: HousingMaps.com and ChicagoCrime.org to make sure you get your new home in a decent area!
What is exciting about these new features is that we have more tools to play with (writting Mapplets), and a nice showcase of using Flash within an Ajax application (Maps).
Brent Ashley has written a Developerworks article about making Ajax mashup secure. It looks at where it’s at today and where it’s all headed.
Current Web browsers weren’t designed to easily and securely get content from multiple sources into one page. Discover how developers have stretched the available tools to fit the task and how doing so has put strain on the resulting applications with respect to security and scalability. Also, learn about several browser improvements being proposed to remedy the situation and how to become part of the conversation that will bring Web development beyond this hurdle to a new level of interoperability.
Read full artilce of Making Ajax mashup secure
When the OpenAjax Alliance was created Microsoft was invited, but didn’t take up the offer. They were noticeably absent from the early meetings.Well, now Bertrand Le Roy of the Atlas team will be at the meetings as the OpenAjax Alliance Welcomes Microsoft and Other New Members and Announces Interoperability Awards:
“Microsoft is joining the OpenAJAX Alliance to collaborate with other industry leaders to help evolve AJAX-style development by ensuring a high degree of interoperability,” said Keith Smith, group product manager of the Core Web Platform & Tools to UX Web/Client Platform & Tools team at Microsoft Corp. “By joining OpenAJAX, Microsoft is continuing its commitment to empower Web developers with technology that works cross-browser and cross-platform.”
The newest OpenAjax Alliance members include: 24SevenOffice, ActiveGrid, ActiveState, Appeon, Aptana, Arimaan Global Consulting, Custom Credit Systems (Thinwire), ESRI, Getahead (DWR), Global Computer Enterprises, GoETC, Helmi Technologies, HR-XML, iPolipo, Isomorphic Software, JSSL, Lightstreamer, Microsoft, MobileAware, NetScript Technologies, OpenSpot, OpenSymphony (OpenQA), OpSource, OS3.IT, Redmonk, Tealeaf Technology, Teleca Mobile, Transmend, Visible Measures, Visual WebGui and Volantis Systems.
The Alliance is also announcing that the following members have all been awarded OpenAjax Interoperability certificates: Apache XAP, Dojo Foundation, ICEsoft, ILOG, Isomorphic, IT Mill, Lightstreamer, Open Link, Open Spot, Nexaweb, Software AG and TIBCO. The interoperability certificates represent progress by both OpenAjax Alliance and its members towards defining and achieving industry support for OpenAjax Conformance.
The library has been an evolving tool I have used for ~10 years now. It started as the basic_dhtml.js portion of the current library and has grown. With the recent trends in ajax and effects libraries and so forth, I decided to update it to a more industrial strength library and release it in the wild. I have had very little formal programming training, so for me, learning has always been through doing. As such, I don’t use other people’s libraries, I see a neat concept and figure out how to do it myself. First and formost, it is a tool for me to use and it has been a great learning experience in writing it that has taken my programming ability to the next level. Now that I have it, my on the job coding has become much easier, faster, and more efficient.
As to the name, it originally started out as just a DHTML library (just style getters/setters) . It is also a late comer to the party, thus the another. Lastly, I am a lazy typer and when I was deciding whether to namespace the entire library or not (I settled on not), I didn’t want something that would be long and add unnecessary file size. To be honest, I couldn’t think of anything really catchy.
As to why others should use it. I think that depends on the same reasons why people use any library. Does it fit their needs? Do they find it friendly, understandable, and in general, something they like? Does this library fit every need? No. I know there are some things missing that I look to add in the near future. As one friend of mine put it though, “it is very robust”. It is designed to fit most any need. It has simple things for the most basic JS operations (style getters/setters) to very advanced programming capabilities and a lot in between. I attempted to keep as much flexibility in the library as possible. For some of the larger, more complicated tasks (events, effects, xhr), the goal was to remove as many of the annoyances (x-browser, scoping etc) as possible while still leaving as many options open to either override the defaults and/or to allow the developer to have more control. Where possible I tried to add things with flexible parameters, flexible ways to set information (e.x. the XHR functionality allows for adding query string items 1 at a time and it will build the query for you, or you can just set the data manually), or adding additional information where traditionally there isn’t any (e.x. events can be assigned with an additional parameters that will be passed to the handler).
One last bonus, it isn’t huge. If you run it through jsmin to kill the comments, the core file isn’t too bad in size for the amount of functionality and the rest of the files can be included on an as needed basis (individually they are fairly small).