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Comments on Ajax and Web Frameworks

Posted by wiverson on July 20, 2005 at 2:41 PM PDT

My previous article on web frameworks and the impact of Ajax got a lot of interesting comments. In no particular order, here are some of the general themes...

- An abstraction for Ajax/JavaScript would be very, very helpful.

I got several emails supporting this general view as well, not just the posts. Between HTML, JavaScript, CSS, the profusion of browsers, not to mention multi-language issues... clearly this is a pain point.

- There will always be a role for custom JavaScripts for particular effects.

This may be true, but the bar is also set awfully low for when you need to start using JavaScript to achieve results. As the frameworks mature, this will get better - but this also means that we are looking at yet another generation of web frameworks.

- The correct way to view the solution is more along the lines of a component framework, not a single web monolithic app.

Let's be clear - the JSF framework, and the profusion of third party components, are a very Good Thing(tm). There are an awful lot of web frameworks for Java right now, thanks to the efforts of a lot of passionate developers, but (especially for people new to the platform) it can be a bit overwhelming.

My point is that if you are writing JavaScript by hand right now, you are likely to wind up in the same spot as all of the folks who had hand-rolled assembly in their apps a decade ago. The thing that was a useful optimization or a neat hack at the time is really likely to be an albatross in just a few years. Unfortunately, the waters are a bit choppy right now, so it's not clear that there is much else to be done - especially if you hav a client that is asking for Ajax-style features today.

- There isn't really a good industry term yet for a hard-core JavaScript + OO-oriented server-side developer focused on these things yet.

"Web presentation developer" was suggested, but that seems awfully close to "web developer." Maybe something like "Ajax Java developer"?

As a final note, there is a java.net project called facelets that builds on Hans Bergsten's thoughts regarding JSF without JSP. I haven't had a chance to play with it in depth yet, but it looks interesting.

Oh, and BTW, we still have a couple of job openings. Tell 'em Will sent you.

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