Open AJAX Group Drafts Development Plans; Many Software Vendors Onboard

AJAX JavaScript

“The most needed thing right now is to start looking at how we reduce the cost and skill requirements [of AJAX development],” said David Boloker, IBM’s CTO of emerging technology. “Today, you have to be a very skilled JavaScript programmer.”

While IBM, Armonk, N.Y., has no formal leadership role in Open AJAX, which recently signed on 13 new members, it was a catalyst for the group’s creation.

This month’s meeting, to be hosted by Adobe in San Francisco, will be the first in-person gathering of Open AJAX representatives. Goals for the two-day summit include identifying development priorities, such as a new Apache proposal for an AJAX development framework called XAP (eXtensible AJAX Platform).

“We need to come up with an agreed-upon industry grammar, and then implement it in tooling,” Boloker said.

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Open AJAX’s impetus is to bring together vendors that are interested in collaborating to support standardized, openly developed specifications and tools for AJAX, the name given to a bundle of Web development techniques that help online applications mimic the speed and rich-client functionality of offline software. Participants such as IBM and Zimbra have seeded the group’s efforts by publicly and freely releasing tools they have built and used internally for AJAX development. Every major software vendor has hopped on the AJAX bandwagon in one way or another, but a few remain holdouts from the Open AJAX group, including Sun Microsystems and Microsoft.

Microsoft is tackling the problem of AJAX programming complexity with its own programming framework, Atlas, which leverages Microsoft’s .Net technology stack. Some fear Microsoft will use its might to splinter AJAX standardization and prod developers down its own proprietary path.

IBM’s Boloker said the Open AJAX group has invited Microsoft to come aboard. Microsoft said it is considering the offer.

“Microsoft just very recently received an invitation to join Open AJAX, and we are open to a dialogue about the best way to help developers working with AJAX,” said Brian Goldfarb, Microsoft’s lead product manager for Web platform and tools, in a written statement.

“Open AJAX is definitely an interesting development, and any cooperation in the community is always goodness for developers,” Goldfarb said.