Microsoft, Apple eyed for AJAX alliance

OpenAjax founder talks about the security issues around it, and the possibilities of other vendors such as Microsoft and Apple joining the OpenAjax alliance

In February, a group of technology vendors, including BEA Systems, Google, IBM, and Oracle, formed the OpenAjax Alliance , with the goal of promoting the popular AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML) Web development technique. Since then, more vendors, such as Sun Microsystems, have joined, and the alliance has launched its OpenAjax Hub project to boost interoperability among AJAX libraries. One of the founders of OpenAjax was David Boloker, who holds the titles of distinguished engineer and CTO of emerging Internet technologies at the IBM software group. He also serves on the alliance's steering committee. InfoWorld Editor at Large Paul Krill spoke with Boloker at the AJAXWorld Conference and Expo on Wednesday about AJAX, the security issues around it, and the possibilities of other vendors such as Microsoft and Apple joining the alliance.

Why did you found OpenAjax?

If you go back nine months, the key problem that folks were having was, one, What exactly is the definition of AJAX? The second [problem was], How do you get [a] message out to all parties that would be cross-vendor? The third thing was, From a technology standpoint, how can you basically start looking at what was going to happen when looking across toolkits?

So you can have one person's UI widget working with your UI widget, and these are all in JavaScript. And each and every one of the toolkits today, actually, expects to own the whole page; so they're going to basically take control, and expect to; then, when you leave their page, they lose control. Well, what really is going to have to happen is, you may like someone's Accordion control from one toolkit and want to use it, for example, with Tibco's. So one of the things which we started working on was something called OpenAjax Hub inside of OpenAjax, which is [aimed at allowing that interoperability], and that's going to be an open source plan.

So [those were] the reasons why we started OpenAjax. Now, when you start looking at the bigger picture here and at what IBM is doing in this space, [you'll see that it] is in parallel to starting OpenAjax; what we did [at IBM] is, we started a project inside IBM to work on trying to bring down the level of complexity of writing and debugging applications, AJAX applications in particular. And the way we did it was, we built a piece of code called the AJAX Tooling Framework which went on top of Eclipse, which is the core foundation for tooling that we are using, and we can demo the AJAX Tooling Framework with the whole idea behind it [being] to bring down that level of not only complexity but also to allow someone to write a lot more AJAX code in a much shorter amount of time and get it published faster.

What about Microsoft -- which has its AJAX technology, Atlas -- not being a part of OpenAjax? Are there any more overtures being made? Are they just going to sit on the sidelines like they seem to do with other industry initiatives, like Eclipse? What's going on there with Microsoft?

I actually just spoke with Microsoft yesterday about joining OpenAjax, and they've taken back the details and are thinking about it, and they'll get back to us.

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