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Ajax Framework Comparison Tools article

A new article on BEA's Dev2Dev site provides a way to sort through the numerous Ajax frameworks that are available today. The goal of the technique is to make it easier to understand the distinctions between the various frameworks by placing them on a set of axes including declarative versus procedural and client-centric versus server-centric.

Gary Horen, the Program Manager for Ajax and Languages at BEA, wrote the article because there are so many Ajax toolkits available that it can be hard to winnow down the choices and find the correct one for a project. He describes his goal as:

This article attempts to sort through these frameworks and map some of the characteristics by which they can be compared. The hope is that the reader will come away with some tools to use for breaking down the collection of Ajax offerings in ways that make it easier to understand distinctions between them, narrowing down the subset that needs to be looked at, and making better-informed choices.

Horen breaks down the frameworks along four axes:

  • Open source vs. commercial
  • Comprehensive framework vs. individual components
  • Declarative vs. procedural
  • Client-centric vs. server-centric

He describes each of the axes, the pros and cons of each end, and what to consider when making a decision on it. For instance, for the comprehensive framework vs. individual components axes, he describes the issues to consider as:

Making a choice along this axis is often related to the age of an application: A new one generally has an easier time dealing with the assumptions made a by a comprehensive package. To make incremental improvements to an existing Web application, it can often, although not always, be easier to integrate code scraps or objects. Scraps and individual components can require more programming, because they operate at a lower level. Comprehensive frameworks make assumptions that make them harder to integrate with each other, and are harder to use in a portal (because sometimes their assumptions conflict with ones made by the portal container).

He then goes through five frameworks: Prototype, DWR, Dojo, Backbase, and GWT and describes where they fall on the axes. His final section is on tooling, where he mentions client-tools from the Mozilla Foundation and the Eclipse Ajax Tooling Framework as well as the server-side tools BEA Workshop Studio and GWT Designer.

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