Sun joins OpenAJAX, Dojo Foundation

Bolstering its AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML) efforts, Sun Microsystems is joining the OpenAJAX Alliance and the Dojo Foundation. In participating, Sun plans to help drive standards for AJAX programming and boost interoperability in AJAX technologies.

OpenAJAX features more than 30 member companies and organizations, including IBM, BEA Systems, and Oracle. Sun will collaborate with the organization as it pursues its goals, which include identifying best practices and reaching a consensus on programming models around a reference implementation for tools interoperability. Wider AJAX adoption also is a goal of OpenAJAX, which was formed in February.

Sun has not been part of OpenAJAX until now for two reasons, said Dan Roberts, Sun director of marketing for developer tools. It was approached by IBM but the invitation went to the wrong group at Sun, and Sun, upon learning of the new initiative, feared OpenAJAX was too skewed toward the Eclipse open source tools platform, which rivals Sun's own NetBeans initiative.

"IBM did invite us, however, it didn't get to any of the groups that understood what OpenAJAX was," Roberts said.

After discussing OpenAJAX with IBM and finding that the organization is not Eclipse-centric, Sun decided to join, Roberts said.

"What we want to do is ensure with the rest of the OpenAJAX Alliance that AJAX technologies are patent-free, royalty-free, and freely available to developers," Roberts said. Some AJAX technologies have not met this criteria, he said.

Sun already supports AJAX in its Sun Java Studio Creator tool and plans to offer more AJAX tools, with many of them to be offered via open source. Sun can generate revenues via AJAX through enabling deployment on Sun platforms such as the company's application server and portal. Sun also can sell training and support services, Roberts said.

The Dojo Foundation is a non-profit organization for JavaScript programming and features the Dojo Toolkit project which is an open source JavaScript toolkit for Web development. Sun will contribute to the toolkit AJAX widgets, and it will help with internationalization and refinement of documentation. Sun AJAX Architect Greg Murray will be one of Sun's representatives with the foundation.

In joining the two AJAX groups, Sun with its new management team is demonstrating intentions to do more with JavaScpript and look at scripting languages as full peers to Java, said James Governor, principal analyst at RedMonk.

"[With the new management team in place], we're going to see a lot more that is not obsessed with Java," Governor said.

Sun does not see AJAX as a rival to Java, Roberts said. Java and JavaScript coexist, according to Roberts.

AJAX also needs standardization, and Sun's participation in these efforts makes sense, Governor said.

Sun also is announcing a preview of a plug-in for the NetBeans IDE to support the jMaki (https://ajax.dev.java.net/) framework, an open source JavaScript framework for the Java platform. jMaki will help boost developer productivity, Sun said. Sun also recently launched two AJAX Web portals, at http://developers.sun.com/ajax and http://java.sun.com/javascript.

Sun also is offering Sun BluePrintsAJAX-enabled JavaServer Faces Components. The components function with Sun Java Studio Creator.

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