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jMaki Ajax Framework Releases 1.0 with Support for Java, PHP, and Ruby

by Craig Wickesser on Sep 25, 2007 |
Today the jMaki project released version 1.0.  jMaki is a client/server framework for creating Web 2.0 applications.  jMaki abstracts JavaScript and CSS by providing widgets. The JavaScript and CSS are made easily accessible so they may be customized by a designer or page developer however. InfoQ recently had the pleasure of interviewing jMaki's lead developer Greg Murray to discuss the upcoming release of jMaki 1.0. Before discussing the upcoming release Murray provided some background on jMaki.

 

Almost two years ago, in the Land of the Rising Sun, work began on a project known as jMaki. Simply put, jMaki is a client/server framework for developing AJAX applications. The primary focus has been geared towards corporate developers although they are working to broaden their scope. Eventually the jMaki team

...would love to see jMaki become the Wordpress of Ajax functionality.
Murray explained that,
jMaki began as a way to describe portable / reusable JavaScript. We soon found that it was very useful for wrapping the growing set of JavaScript toolkits out there. Being a client server framework we are able to make the process of defining widgets and the dependent JavaScript dependencies, CSS, and HTML template text could be accelerated by a server.
He continued to explain the overall goal of the jMaki project,
Basically we want jMaki to provide a framework where you can create standards based applications that use your code along with the best of breed toolkits and functionalities out there. This might include Dojo or Yahoo Widgets, use Google Gears for local storage, Scriptataculus / Protoscript for effects, and use services such as Yahoo or Google Maps.
Additionally, Murray made the point clear that jMaki is not an "all or nothing framework",
jMaki is good as a single widget (such as a chart or the revolver) and it is also good for applications. The framework is designed to perform well. The client-side script containing all the core functionality is 18KB. Further, size is determined by what you decide to use and we have also gone through great pains to make sure the toolkits we use are tuned to work very well.

 

The release of jMaki 1.0 provides developers with a plethora of features and capabilities which Murray explained when answering InfoQ's question, If you had the opportunity to sit with a web application developer who was about to start a new application, what would be the top five features or capabilities that you would point out? 

  1. Defaults set when you use a widget /extension
  2. jMaki adheres to convention over configuration. There are well known locations for putting widgets /extensions that get picked up. Especially when you use a tool you will get a working widget when you drag it in the page. The templates we use have inlnine data (data can also be loaded using Ajax calls).
  3. Tooling
  4. We provide plugins for Netbeans / Eclipse and have Ant tasks for building web applications
  5. Standardizes Event / Data Models
  6. We have a consistent way of describing widgets and interactions with widgets. This allows you to learn one model and you can apply it across toolkits. We manage the differences in the widget wrappers we have written.
  7. Consistent programming model
  8. The way to interact with a widget is consistent across toolkits. The use of Actions for example is a single way of handling events on widgets declaratively. We have glue to allow for a programatic way of handling events on widgets, extensions, or user behavior.
  9. Portable Widget / Extension libraries
  10. jMaki widgets are portable and they can also be aggregated into libraries which include all of their need resources. This allows a user to upgrade or share a set of widgets in a simple zip file package format that can be loaded by tools
  11. Extensions
  12. jMaki isn't about just widgets any more. You can also wrap Google Gears, Protoscript, JavaScript sound, or any other JavaScirpt accessible functionality in portable libraries in a re-usable manner.
  13. Platform Independence
  14. jMaki has full support for Java (JSP / JSF 1.1-2 / Facelets / Portlets), PHP 5.x, Phobos, and now Ruby (though we don't have the proxy implemented do to there not being a standard XSLT processor).

 

The release of jMaki 1.0 is a culmination of a lot of hard work and time by the community. However, with a 1.0 release date of September 25, Murray and the rest of the team have already begun discussion jMaki 1.1. Future enhancements include improving the consistency of the client-event bus connection with the server component, improving the breath of widgets (i.e. jQuery and Protoscript) and increase the utilization of the server to improve the over the wire experience.

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