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Comparing Ajax Frameworks

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Ajax is no longer a buzzword, because nobody likes to explain what it is. For a time, the browser core component, XmlHttpRequest, was considered to be the essence of Ajax technology; but more and more, developers of Web 2.0 applications point out that asynchronous refreshing is not the whole of Ajax any longer.  The ability to deliver a great UI with rich user interaction is where Ajax demonstrates it's greatest value.

But the question is, among the booming Ajax framework/toolkit market, which option is the most preferable for developers? Especially with  so many frameworks, each with different features and abilities, how do you choose? This is not the first time this problem has been discussed on InfoQ, but we believe the perspective and standards that people use to select an Ajax framework for their team are important to review, particularly when we have a newer and more capable version of a toolkit to offer.

Matt Raible selected Dojo, ExtJS, GWT, and YUI for comparison when he was making this decision for his own team.  Matt summarized his comparisons in a matrix using a specific set of weight and score criteria applied to each framework:

Matt decided that GWT was the best choice to meet his team requirement.

More interesting news is that Jim Briggs, from Athenz, is building a Web site, the Ajax Framework Decision Center, for us:

I built this site, to allow everyone to evaluate and select Ajax or RIA frameworks for himself. This center contains over 100 requirement models and tools to classify, compare and evalute different frameworks, as well as 35 pages of guidelines about frameworks, requirements, and features.

Anyone is able to publish, for free, his evaluation of any framework and vendors can publish information on their products as well.

Note that the center would not eliminate the difficulties and dilemmas faced when choosing a framework, but it at least provides a way to help you make a correct and fair choice, and you would not regret using this site.

Ajax framework selection is a very important decision for application developers and development shops.  The standards used to decide have significant impact on the development experience and it's efficiency and even greater impact on the expansibility plus the cost of maintainance and future upgrades.

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