Ajax is positioned to become "a mainstream tool used by Web developers as an alternative to other rich Internet application (RIA) technologies," writes Richard Monson-Haefel, senior analyst with the Burton Group Inc. in a report released today.
Organizations considering RIA options are advised in the report to begin working with Ajax as opposed to the competing technologies including Adobe Flash, Java applets, Microsoft's Windows Presentation Foundation/Everywhere (WPF/E), Mozilla's XML User Interface Language (XUL) and Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG). However, Monson-Haefel does predict that Flash will be the choice for applications that require sophisticated animation as he finds it unlikely that Ajax will evolve to provide those capabilities.
"The principal advantage of using Ajax over other RIA technologies is its seamless integration with Hypertext Markup Language (HTML)," the Burton analyst writes. "Rather than being isolated to a box or a page component, Ajax functionality mixes well with HTML, allowing rich graphical user interface (GUI) capabilities to be incrementally added to existing Web sites without having to re-implement content."
Another advantage of Ajax, according to Monson-Haefel is that it can be used with "just about any application platform that supports the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP)." Ajax is compatible with PHP, Perl, Active Server Pages for .NET (ASP.NET) and Java 2 Platform, Enterprise Edition (J2EE), he notes.
The Burton report, "Ajax: A Rich Internet Application Technology", recommends that organizations take an incremental approach to implementing Ajax recognizing that while most of the technologies involved have been around since the 1990s, commercial tools for Ajax development are not yet mature.
While the report aims at organizations looking to dip their toes into Ajax, it notes that sophisticated Web developers are already making use of the technology. As sophistication grows, Monson-Haefel predicts more integration with the Adobe Flash products for streaming content and animation.
"As tool vendors, our design time has gotten better for JavaServer Faces," Farrell said. "I think we got smarter over the last two years in making components, shaping them to be simpler for the user rather than having them be complicated. So there's a combination of the components getting better and the tools getting better having lowered the barrier for people to start using and being successful with JavaServer Faces. applications."
Farrell also sees Ajax emerging as the RAI technology of choice and JSF as the way most developers can work with the technology.
"Developers don't have to learn anything new," he said. "They're still programming in JSP and JavaServer Faces like they always did. They get the advantage of being able to build rich Ajax-based applications."
However, Jason Bloomberg, senior analyst with ZapThink LLC., remains skeptical of the JSF tools.