AJAX alliance recognizes mashups

At the AJAXWorld conference, the OpenAjax Alliance detailed the upcoming OpenAjax Hub 1.0, which embraces mashups and irons out interoperability issues

The OpenAjax Alliance, formed to boost interoperability in the AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML) realm, has put forth an aggressive roadmap that recognizes the growing trend toward mashups.

Speaking at the AJAXWorld conference in Santa Clara on Monday, Jon Ferraiolo, OpenAjax operations manager and an IBM Web architect, detailed the upcoming release of the OpenAjax Hub 1.0 and the follow-up 1.1 release. Other projects including the OpenAjax Registry and IDE accommodations for AJAX also were noted by Ferraiolo.

With the hub, the alliance aims to iron out interoperability issues between AJAX toolkits.

"Sometimes, they actually prevent each other from working. They step on each other," Ferraiolo said.

Developers can use the hub to integrate multiple toolkits within the same Web page while toolkit developers can use it to allow toolkits to talk to other toolkits. While the 1.0 hub is useful in mashup scenarios where all components come from a trusted source, version 1.1 adds a security layer for untrusted components to protect from any components that might be malicious.

The 1.0 version of the hub, to include AJAX library registration and a publish-and-subscribe engine, is due by the end of this year. Version 1.1 is planned for approval next year, although a full implementation is slated to be ready by the end of 2007.

"One of the key features [in version 1.1] is secure mashups," said Ferraiolo. "It's very much a security-focused enhancement providing a secure mashup framework," he said.

IBM-contributed technology called SMash, for Secure Mashups, is being included in version 1.1. It provides for secure handling of third-party mashup components.

Also in the security arena, the alliance has formed an AJAX Security Task Force

Version 1.1 also is slated to include publishing and subscribing across frames as well as publish-and-subscribe between clients and servers. Also featured is support for the Comet programming technique to push data from the server to client. Server push is desirable particularly in mashups and portals, according to the alliance.

The hub was called "absolutely essential" by attendee and author Dave Mosby. "It provides mechanisms for us to bridge between different components so that they can begin to talk to each other," Mosby said. 

In other develpments at the alliance, the planned OpenAjax Registry will provide an AJAX toolkit and JavaScript global object registration authority to prevent JavaScript object collision within complex AJAX applications. The registry is to be managed by the OpenAjax Interoperability Working Group. Population of the registry begins this fall.

OpenAjax is holding an event this week called OpenAjax InteropFest, in which companies like Microsoft are testing their AJAX toolkits for conformance with OpenAjax. Microsoft, with its Microsoft AJAX Library, has passed the conformance test, according to Microsoft. 

The alliance also has launched a task force for mobile AJAX with a white paper planned on how to be successful with the concept. Also, the alliance will explore APIs for access to mobile device services. Device APIs would be exposed to JavaScript on these devices. A mobile AJAX workshop is planned for this Friday.

"Mobile devices are getting AJAX," said Ferraiolo.

An AJAX management task force, meanwhile, is being launched to make sure AJAX applications perform on a consistent basis. Another task force to be formed will focus on searchability to optimize the ability for search engines to find AJAX applications.

Another OpenAjax effort is its IDE working group, which will attempt to accommodate multiple AJAX toolkits and IDEs. The alliance is trying to develop a standard XML file that describes JavaScript functions and other APIs, widgets and their properties. This project is intended to assist developers with user interface components such as widget pallets. Code compilation and type-checking on JavaScript functions also would be part of the effort.

Proposals from Microsoft, Adobe Systems, and Aptana have been submitted for consideration by the IDE working group.

OpenAjax Alliance features members like IBM and Microsoft.

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