Sun to shine on AJAX

Projects afoot to accommodate JavaScript in Java

Sun Microsystems will shine more light on accommodations for AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML) in the Java realm at the AJAXWorld Conference & Expo in Santa Clara, Calif. next week.

Featured on Sun's agenda are details on Project jMaki and Project Phobos as well as an update on Sun's JSF (JavaServer Faces) component model for Web application development, said Sun's Greg Murray, AJAX architect with the company and the project lead for jMaki. Phobos, jMaki and Phobos are all open source projects.

Sun's AJAX efforts focus on making JavaScript more available to Java developers, Murray said. "The problem is, people are afraid of JavaScript," he said.

"If we want to keep Java relevant, we have to support this newer programming model [scripting]," Murray said. Web 2.0 and AJAX are very important to Sun, Murray said. The next version of Java, Java Standard Edition 6, will support JavaScript and is expected some time in 2007.

Sun's accommodations with JavaScript will make AJAX simpler, said analyst Rikki Kirzner, CEO of Centennial Global Research. "You should be able to make AJAX simpler than it is," she said. AJAX currently lacks accommodations with Java, according to Kirzner.  "AJAX is a way to add richness to 3GL code, to any code, and Java doesn't readily embrace it," Kirzner said.

The jMaki project enables Java developers to use JavaScript in Java applications as either a JSP (Java Server Pages) tag library or a JSF component. "It's a way of wrapping some of the existing JavaScript frameworks out there and exposing them to Java developers," Murray said. Developers can access Dojo and other frameworks. 

A Dojo widget could be included in a page, for example. "Basically, jMaki will generate all the JavaScript, everything necessary to put that in the page for you," Murray said. A beta release of jMaki is planned for release in November. "We've been working away just to polish the edges," said Murray. A general release is expected in January or February 2007.

Phobos is a way to script server-side code in JavaScript, rather than write a JSP page or a servlet, Murray said. The technology is planned for release early next year.

Sun anticipates making jMaki and Phobos add-ons to the Java Enterprise Edition 5 platform.

The future of JSF, meanwhile, involves an upgrade being called Project Dynamic Faces or JSF 2.0. This version will extend the component model for server-side components to better support AJAX, Murray said. This release is driven by feedback from users who seek AJAX functionality but want a strict programming model for the server, which JSF provides, Murray said.

Dynamic Faces has been available in an early access release since the May timeframe.

Copyright © 2006 IDG Communications, Inc.