Other players have come at AJAX from the server side: Nexaweb Enterprise Web 2.0 Suite, which started as a Java-based framework for building client-server applications, today delivers back-end data to AJAX as well as Java clients. WaveMaker, which started life as a rapid Web application builder on LAMP (it was called ActiveGrid then), is today a rapid Web application builder on Java, allowing neophyte developers to build full-fledged J2EE applications with points and clicks.
The more sophisticated RIA solutions have cozied up to AJAX as well. RIA oldtimer Curl, which nabbed InfoWorld's 2008 Technology of the Year Award for Best Rich Internet Applications Platform (based on 2007's Version 5.0), improved interoperability with AJAX in 2008's Version 6.0. In addition to allowing a Curl applet to be embedded into an existing AJAX page, the new release added skinnable controls and graphics improvements such as anti-aliasing, partial transparency, and the ability to render rotated images.
Curl 6.0 is an industrial-strength RIA platform that brings high-quality graphics, sophisticated effects, easy customization, and excellent performance to Windows, Mac, and Linux clients. Curl has even added offline support through an extension called Nitro. No doubt Curl would draw more attention from developers if it weren't for juggernauts Adobe and Microsoft, and the speed at which their RIA platforms are evolving.
When Microsoft's Silverlight debuted in the fall of 2007, it was already backed by excellent development and design tools (in Visual Studio and Microsoft's Expressions Suite, respectively), and it already had a high-profile deployment in MLB.com. But performance -- at least for highly interactive applications -- was a concern. Silverlight 2, which arrived in the fall of 2008, completed the promise with full .Net support, a rich set of controls and networking APIs, and speed to burn. Microsoft also added the Beijing Olympics and Blockbuster to the flagship customer list, while examples of Silverlight applications become easier to find.