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Tibco open-sources General Interface with new beta release

by Rob Thornton on Oct 12, 2006 |

Tibco has released a beta of version 3.2 of the Tibco General Interface (GI). Tibco GI is a toolkit that abstracts away the pain of dealing with AJAX development. Tibco acquired GI in 2004 and until now has been a closed-source tool for generating AJAX RIA's for IE 6. Tibco GI's license is a BSD license. Tibco is introducing a dual-license, open-source model with the beta release of version 3.2. Ajaxian interviewed Kevin Hakman of Tibco about the change. Here he describes the licenses and their motivation:

The two editions provide a variation on the familiar "dual license" model that many open source products have pursued. The primary idea is to provide the software under terms that make it free for any use, then offer value added benefits such as access to TIBCOís enterprise-grade support services and stronger license terms with warranties and intellectual property protections through a separate license and support agreement for organizations that want those things for their more critical development and deployment cycles.

Tibco hopes that open-sourcing GI will result accelerate adoption of the product. The market has pushed them in this direction as well, as noted by an analyst at the Gartner group:

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. This move has become a necessity in today's market."

Not to be overshadowed by the open-sourcing of Tibco GI, version 3.2 introduces several major features, including support for Firefox 1.5. Previously, deployment of GI applications was limited to IE 6. Kevin describes cross-browser GUI challenges of the port:

At the baseline, even rendering a rectangular region in IE and FX has differing behaviors. Getting the rectangular region to render is easy. Itís the behaviors for that rectangular region of the screen that get tricky - namely with resizing. So we wrote an intermediary jsx3.gui.Block class that adds managed resizing and dynamic layout to the rendering of DIVs in Firefox to that there was parity with what we had out of the box through Internet Explorer.

GI 3.2 includes other improvements, as detailed in the release notes including:

  • powerful new components
  • New Matrix control combines Tree, List and Edit Grid capabilities and adds large data set scrolling and pagination tuners
  • Chart package implemented in SVG to enable execution in Firefox without a plug-in
  • Load-time optimizations with smaller initial footprint
  • API and visual tooling enhancements throughout

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