OpenAjax moves on interoperability, security

Microsoft, Oracle also pitch wares at AJAXWorld

The OpenAjax Alliance plans in 2009 to finish off two interoperability technologies for AJAX developers, IBM officials said at the AJAXWorld RIA Conference & Expo on Monday.

Interviewed at the San Jose, Calif. conference, IBM officials prominent in the alliance detailed the latest interoperability progress with two specifications, OpenAjax Metadata 1.0 and OpenAjax Hub 1.1. Specifically, the alliance is announcing that multiple vendors have used the specifications and shown interoperability.

The alliance will now move to complete both specifications in early-2009. OpenAjax Alliance was formed in 2006 to boost interoperability amongst AJAX based technologies.

OpenAjax Metadata describes JavaScript APIs and widgets found in AJAX libraries. The standard will allow arbitrary AJAX tools to work with AJAX libraries so tools can provide intelligent code assist, interactive help, and drag-and-drop visual editing using AJAX widgets, according to the alliance.

"What the OpenAjax Metadata [specification] allows you to do is use a visual tool, such as an Eclipse-based tool or Adobe Dreamweaver, rather than just a text editor," said Jon Ferraiolo, alliance director and Web architect in the IBM Emerging Technologies group.

OpenAjax Metadata describes JavaScript APIs found in AJAX libraries like Dojo. A second part of the specification describes widgets in those libraries, such as tree widgets. Vendors have implemented both aspects of the specification, producing and consuming the OpenAjax format. Consumers have included Eclipse, Aptana, and Adobe.

OpenAjax Hub 1.1 features an industry-standard secure mashup runtime to isolate third-party widgets into security sandboxes. This mediates messaging among widgets with a security manager. Version 1.1 is to be delivered as an "open" specification and as a commercial-grade open-source reference implementation, the alliance said.

Also at the conference Monday, Microsoft's Scott Guthrie, corporate vice president of the company's developer division, reiterated the company's support of AJAX development within the Visual Studio 2008 platform and promoted the company's Silverlight technology for rich Internet applications and rich media. Silverlight is a cross-browser plugin, Guthrie noted.

"Silverlight itself is a very small plugin, about 4.6 megabytes," Guthrie said.

"Our goal is to eventually get it to be completely ubiquitous," he said.

But a conference attendee found Guthrie's presentation too product-focused as opposed to a keynote he attended at a previous event.

"This one really was very product-based, which is kind of a shame," said AJAX developer Gregory Kuehnel, of the information systems unit of Edward Jones. Kuehnel did, however, say he may take a look at Silverlight.

An Oracle official at the conference touted Oracle's '"rich enterprise applications" strategy, which attempts to bring collaboration capabilities of consumer-based Web 2.0 sites to the enterprise. Key to the strategy is Oracle's ADF Faces technology, which features JavaServer Faces components for building rich user interfaces for Java applications.

"It’s the combination of the ADF Faces and WebCenter Services platform. Bring the two of them together and you have a whole bunch of nifty user interface technologies but you also have a lot features and services," for building chat applications, wikis, content management systems, and other systems, said Pieter Humphrey, Oracle principal product director.

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