ExtJS Creator Jack Slocum Discusses Upcoming 2.0 Release
- Grouping and Summary of Tables
- Scrolling Tabs
- Anchor Layout
- Tree Widget with Columns
- Web Desktop
- New API Documentation Center
- New Samples
It is noted that the API of ExtJS 2.0 has stabilized and is being used by several clients in production environments. The framework is licensed under LGPL 3.0, commercial, and OEM licenses. The final version is being targeted for sometime near October 31st.
InfoQ caught up with ExtJS creator Jack Slocum to discuss the release:
What is the most difficult thing about supporting the various JS libraries?
The most difficult challenge is probably the most obvious one: keeping the other libraries up-to-date and working nicely with Ext. As each new version of each library comes out, we also have to test them and see if any changes were introduced that might break things for Ext developers.
Similarly what is the biggest pain/issue with supporting the various web browsers?
The biggest issue for us is simply the amount of time it takes to test and verify changes and additions to the framework. It's not only different browsers and browser versions, but different doc types on each browser as well that must be supported.
One nice thing about Ext is that we've built many tools directly into the framework itself to handle cross-browser issues, including a base component class for normalizing box model issues transparently, as well as platform-specific constants and auto-applied CSS classes for working around browser quirks without using CSS hacks. Because this support is built right in, and because the core framework is stable and well-tested, the end developer can generally develop without too many cross-browser concerns, thereby speeding development and drastically reducing testing on the application end.
If you had to define the driving force of ExtJS 2.0 what would it be?
Developer productivity and a solid, consistent foundation to build on. Although the 1.x version of Ext was a great library to build on, there were certain areas identified that could be made easier and require less expertise and code by the developer. We want to tackle some of the more difficult problems when building a complex application, such as deferred rendering and component life-cycle and not require developers to handle it manually. The other major improvement for 2.0 in a more robust foundation in place for customizing components (plugins), grouping components (containers) and component initialization. The new consistency across layouts and components means that once you understand how to configure and work with one component in Ext, you will be able to work with any component in the framework in the same way. That leads to faster and easier development for the end user, while sacrificing nothing in terms of Ext's size or performance.
What is the most innovative feature of 2.0 in your opinion?
Probably the new container architecture. In 1.0, application layout was primarily focused around the BorderLayout (for layout) and the BasicDialog (for application dialogs and windows). While these components looked good and were extremely functional, they were limited when it came to reusing code to extend their built in functionality. Using the new container and layout architecture, for 2.0 we’ve added a quite a few additional layout managers (CardLayout, ColumnLayout, FormLayout, TableLayout and several others - 9 in all) and consolidated the container API so whether you are adding a component to a TabPanel, Window, Panel, etc the API is always the same. In the end, we aren't just offering widgets, we are offering an integrated framework that works well together and has the foundation in place to grow with our user’s applications.
In some ways, Ext is actually complementary to the new plugin-based technologies. Both Flex and Silverlight support DHTML/Ajax development as part of what they can do, and our Adobe AIR Simple Tasks demo application is a perfect example of Ext working well under that exact scenario. In fact, in that example, Ext is providing a look-and-feel quality that you would not even be able to achieve in AIR natively without spending countless hours writing your own widget wrappers and custom CSS!
What is next for ExtJS?
The current focus in on having a solid and stable 2.0 release. Although the first release is an alpha, we already have a head start on that since the 2.0 codebase has been being used by quite a few developers for a couple months.