Zero-code AJAX framework sought

Developers of the ZK AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML) Web framework put out a 2007 roadmap this week, endeavoring to release technology that requires "zero code."

Bearing the slogan, "AJAX but no JavaScript," ZK is being positioned as an open source framework enabling development of a rich user interface for Web applications but requiring no JavaScript and little programming, according to the ZK Web site.

For 2007, simplicity will continue to be a critical driver.

"Simplicity is one of the core values of ZK. In 2007, we will keep pushing ZK to the optimal goal: zero code," according to the roadmap, authored by ZK founder Tom Yeh.

"There are a few things that are special about ZK, from a design perspective," said ZK user Dietrich Kappe, in an email.

"Most AJAX frameworks require that you know lots of JavaScript and force you to develop code for both the browser and the server. ZK applications, on the other hand, don't just behave like desktop applications, but you also develop them like [a] desktop application. You simply compose a user interface out of UI components, back it with business logic, and the ZK framework takes care of generating all of the code that goes to and interacts with the browser," Kappe said.

"You don't need to a stitch of JavaScript, CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) or XHTML to achieve sophisticated results," said Kappe. ZUML (ZK User Interface Markup Language), a markup language based on XML, is a key to ZK, he said.

With ZK, markup and scripting are done in Java and designing becomes as simple as authoring HTML, the site says. Event-driven, server-centric components are featured to enable development as simple as programming desktops.

"The major rhythms of 2007 for ZK include ease of use, cross-platforms, cross-scripting languages, mega-components, and community collaboration," Yeh says on the roadmap.

"ZK has become the number 1 AJAX project in, accumulated 250,000 downloads and 500,000 unique visitors and been referred by over 2,500 Web sites since the first release in November 2004," according to Yeh.

"In 2007 we would like to ignite more development of diversified plugins, versatile components, cool themes, design patterns, and sample applications," said Yeh.

"At the core, we will keep enhancing the extensibility with more flexible plugins, such [as] clustering and scripting languages, and the [long-awaited] Component Development Guide. With open source, people tend to modify the source codes directly, but please talk to us first," Yeh said.

As part of the roadmap, ZK Mobile, a Java Platform, Micro Edition client, is planned for release in the first half of this year. A visual design tool compatible with the Eclipse IDE also is on the agenda.

Core ZK developers work for Potix, Kappe said.

Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.