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Ajax for enterprise SOA is Tibco goal

The open source Tibco General Interface beta release aims to drive adoption of Ajax through developers working on enterprise SOA projects.

Seeking to move Ajax from the adolescence of providing cool apps for Web surfers to the mature state of creating rich user interfaces for corporate SOA implementations, Tibco Software Inc. today announced a beta upgrade of its General Interface product.

 If you do a head-to-head comparison with the maturity of Java debugability and utilities, JavaScript comes up short, but it's light years ahead of where it was in 2000.
Kevin Hakman
Director of Product MarketingTIBCO General Interface

The new release, officially version 3.2, was designed for corporate developers and fits into the rest of Tibco's products for enterprise SOA development," said Kevin Hakman, director, product marketing, TIBCO General Interface.

Asked what differentiates Tibco's Ajax offering from the growing number of tools for the hot technology, Gartner Inc. analyst Ray Valdes cited Tibco's focus on the corporate world.

"Tibco's offering is differentiated from the many other Ajax toolkits in that it comes from a vendor that has market presence and track record in the enterprise software sector," Valdes said.

Hakman said Tibco is not a Johnny Come Lately vendor that just recently decided to jump on the Ajax bandwagon. The company was doing research and development on rich interface tools before the term Ajax was invented.

"We've been pioneering delivering software applications to a Web browser based on native browser technology since 2000," he said.

He also said Tibco has stayed focused on the requirements of corporate developers, rather than trying to compete in the areas where Ajax is aimed at wowing Web surfers with graphical hoopla.

"With the General Interface product, we're not trying to boil the Ajax ocean," Hakman said. "We're really servicing business productivity applications. We're not trying to be the tool for consumer facing Web sites."

He compares Tibco's Ajax tools to what PowerBuilder offered developers in the relational database era in the late 20th Century.

"What PowerBuilder was to the relational database, providing the visual client creation capability on top of the core infrastructure of its day, we're doing the same with the General Interface product," he said. "What PowerBuilder was to RDBMS, General Interface is to SOA."

Tibco's corporate customers are using the new Ajax tools to do everything from small applications that provide a portlet for booking conference rooms to building an interface for Web-based workflow applications used by thousands of employees worldwide, Hakman said.

"We're seeing everything from people using General Interface on simple ColdFusion sites all the way up to full SOA enterprise service bus deployments with General Interface as Ajax as a rich internet application tier," he said.

Primarily designed for developers, the Tibco UI design tools may be used by business analysts, but it still requires Java developers for the coding that integrates it into an SOA implementation, he said.

For those developers, Tibco has worked to make JavaScript easier to work with, Hakman said.

"Our utilities include JavaScript debugger," he explained. "A lot of the pain points for the debugability of JavaScript we addressed."

Tibco is part of the new OpenAjax Alliance along with IBM and other vendors, and he said the alliance is making a concerted effort to address problems JavaScript has presented to developers working on Ajax, Hakman said.

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"IBM has donated to the Eclipse initiative a JavaScript debugger and a JavaScript coder," he pointed out. "I think we're seeing JavaScript really become a first class language. People are now talking about JavaScript compilers. I think we're going to really see a second life for JavaScript because the infrastructure around it is making it commercial grade at this time."

Hakman also said that while there has been criticism of JavaScript especially in relation to Ajax, he does not see it as a universal problem, but more of a maturity problem.

"There are many, many people who are doing just fine with JavaScript," he argued. "If you do a head-to-head comparison with the maturity of Java debugability and utilities, JavaScript comes up short, but it's light years ahead of where it was in 2000."

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