Sun's jMaki does mix-and-match AJAX widgets

Sun Microsystems unveiled technology for mixing and matching JavaScript widgets from different AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML) frameworks at the AJAX Experience conference in San Francisco on Thursday.

Called Project jMaki (http://ajax.dev.java.net/), the technology features an open source JavaScript Wrapper Framework for the Java platform. Developers can take JavaScript widgets from popular AJAX frameworks such as Dojo and wrap them into a JavaServer Faces or JavaServer Pages tag, providing a Java language view of JavaScript components.

Sun is enabling developers to program to one model and use widgets from multiple frameworks. "There's certain pieces of functionality that exist in some that aren't in others," such as the Dojo rich text editor, said Dan Roberts, director of developer tools marketing at Sun.

With its jMaki technology, Sun is addressing an issue with AJAX, but also may face obstacles, said Jason Bloomberg, senior analyst at ZapThink.

"I can see that [jMaki] would definitely be useful. One of the challenges that AJAX faces is the development is [in] JavaScript, so it's hard to maintain, it's hard to debug," Bloomberg said. "Moving to a Java development environment makes a lot of sense.

"The challenge is going to be whether the widgets are going to be easy to test, easy to deploy," he said. Developers do not want code that is scattered and hard to maintain, he said.

Bloomberg said that Icesoft, with its Icefaces product, offers AJAX functionality that does not require the use of JavaScript.

The name, jMaki, was derived from "j," for Java, and "Maki," a Japanese word for wrap that is commonly used when referring to the ordering of sushi. jMaki refers to a JavaScript Wrapper Framework.

Sun also launched two developer Web portals, developers.sun.com/ajax (http://developers.sun.com/ajax) and java.sun.com/javascript (http://java.sun.com/javascript). The first site features resources for getting started with AJAX applications, including technical articles, code samples, development tools, and runtime solutions. The second offers information on using JavaScript and Java effectively.

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