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Eclipse jumps on the Ajax bandwagon

New releases of its Ajax framework, toolkit and dynamic language tools for rich Internet application development top the news as EclipseCon opens today.

Ajax was the talk of last year's Eclipse Foundation annual conference, but at EclipseCon 2007 opening today in Santa Clara, Calif., the promoters of the popular open source IDE plan to show that they are now walking the walk.

We think [the OSGi R4 core framework spec] will become very important for the future of Ajax development.
Ian Skerrett
Director of MarketingEclipse Foundation

This year's show features new milestone releases of the Ajax technology Eclipse developed over the past year, said Ian Skerrett, director of marketing for the Eclipse Foundation. Developers working with Ajax and the scripting languages supporting it can now use the Eclipse Rich Ajax Platform (RAP), the Eclipse Ajax Toolkit Framework (ATF) and the Eclipse Dynamic Language Toolkit (DLTK), which includes support for Ruby and Python.

Eclipse is also highlighting support for the OSGi Alliance and its OSGi R4 core framework specification for employing plug-in in development, which is imbedded in Eclipse Equinox. Equinox is the project within the Eclipse platform that implements the services within the OSGi spec and provides the runtime for the Eclipse Rich Client Platform and the Eclipse tooling infrastructure, Mike Milinkovich, Eclipse director, explained in an interview earlier this year. "Effectively, an Eclipse plug-in is exactly the same thing as what is referred to as a bundle in the OSGi spec," he said. "So there's shared DNA between OSGi and Eclipse that goes very, very deep."

As evidence of this close relationship the OSGi Developer Conference is being co-located at EclipseCon 2007.

"The OSGi spec traces it's beginnings to the embedded systems world, but its modular approach to development spans from embedded systems to server side and rich client," Skerrett said. "We think it will become very important for the future of Ajax development."

For the rich client developer, he said, the new RAP framework extends the Eclipse Rich Client Platform (RCP) providing a runtime specifically designed for Ajax applications. RAP uses the component model to help developers avoid writing complex JavaScript, according to Ludwig Neer, CTO of CAS AG, a leading German CRM vendor supporting the project.

The ATF project, which provides tools and frameworks for building an Ajax IDE, is now gaining vendor support, Skerrett said. Nexaweb Technologies Inc. has incorporated ATF into its Nexaweb Studio product, according to an announcement by Coach Wei, the company's chairman and CTO.

Increasing the number of operating systems supported by the Eclipse Ajax tools, Apple Computer Inc.'s Mac OS X has been added to ATF's existing support for Windows and Linux, Skerrett said.

The new DLTK release extends the Eclipse platform to RIA developers working with Tool Command Language (Tcl), and will soon support Ruby and Python, Skerrett said. DLTK provides frameworks and components, along with code indexing and refactoring, for developers working with dynamic languages. The Tcl version is already being used by software engineers at Cisco Systems Inc., he said.

Red Hat adds RichFaces

JBoss tools are adding Eclipse-based tools for Ajax/RIA and service-oriented architecture project through a partnership Red Hat Inc. is announcing today at EclipseCon with Exadel Inc., a vendor for rich application components.

Exadel Studio Pro and RichFaces will be open sourced and available at as part of the open source projects that make up JBoss Enterprise Middleware, said Bryan Che, product manager, Red Hat. Gavin King, creator of JBoss Seam, will lead a joint project with Exadel to integrate its tools into Seam and other JBoss platform technologies, Che said.

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Eclipse joins JCP, OMG and OSGi alliance

The RichFaces product consists of RIA components that developers can drag-and-drop into their applications, explained Donna Burke, vice president at Exadel.

"There are 30 components in RichFaces," she said. "It's very much a rich component library to enable Ajax-ification in application. The components allow you to drag and drop a capability, such as calendar, menu bars, tables, into your application and then it's ready to go out of the box. It makes it easier for the developer and reduces cost in terms of development time."

Red Hat plans to make these tools available to developers working in the rival Microsoft Windows operating system and frameworks other than JBoss, Che said.

"Even though a lot of the technology we're going to be focusing on and developing is going to be all about making JBoss developers more productive and helping people on enterprise Linux, we're also committed to making sure developers can develop applications in the environment they want to use with the technologies they want to use. So, for example, we're going to support Windows as a first class platform for developers. Similarly, a lot of the plug-ins you're going to see for Red Hat Developer Suite are going to be for frameworks that aren't from JBoss. So for example, support for Spring and Struts will continue in Red Hat Developer Suite."

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