Tibco to open source, upgrade AJAX toolkit

Tibco Software is going to offer its General Interface rich Internet application toolkit via an open source format

Tibco Software on Monday announced its intention to offer its General Interface rich Internet application toolkit via an open source format. The product, based on AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML), is being made available via open source as part of the company's announcement of General Interface Version 3.2, which supports the Firefox 1.5 browser.

The beta release can be downloaded from its Web site. Other new features in Version 3.2 include additional components such as tree grids and scalable vector graphics for Firefox.

On the market since 2001, General Interface is recognized as one of the most mature products in the AJAX space, said Kevin Hakman, product marketing manager for Tibco General Interface.

"It's a toolkit [that] enables developers to create and deploy AJAX applications that look and feel like desktop GUIs," Hakman said. "It's got a vast set of components and then a set of visual tools that enable very rapid assembly of these desktop-style GUIs."

Tibco's reasoning behind its open source plan is that this will accelerate adoption and development of solutions. The company will offer the product via dual licensing, with an open source model based on the BSD (Berkeley Software Distribution) license and a fee-based option that features enterprise warrantees, maintenance and support.

"The starting price for enterprise deployments has been around US$25,000, and this move is designed to remove that entry barrier," Hakman said. Although the product is installed at hundreds of organizations and used by thousands of developers, Tibco has set it sights on enticing millions of developers.

"Given that the majority of AJAX adoption today is open source packages rather than closed-source products, it is very important for Tibco to open-source this technology," said analyst Ray Valdes, research director for Internet Platforms and Web Services at Gartner, in an e-mail. "This move has become a necessity in today's market."

General Interface, unlike rival Adobe's Flex and Flash technology, does not require a plug-in. Using a plug-in can present challenges with scalability and integration, Hakman said. "We're offering the ability to rapidly deploy Web applications that look like desktop applications without the extra technology layer of a plug-in to the server," Hakman said.

The beta period for Version 3.2 is expected to last several months.

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