Enterprise Web 2.0 is more complicated than just putting a pretty Ajax face on aging legacy applications, says Ted Farrell, chief architect and vice president for tools and middleware at Oracle Corp.
The complex mix of legacy systems and the variety of new Web 2.0 technologies faced by enterprise developers requires a "UI framework that's implementation technology agnostic," Farrell said in an interview prior to his keynote at today's opening of AJAXWorld in Santa Clara, Calif.
In his keynote entitled, "Why Web 2.0 for the Enterprise Is Far More Than Just a Facelift," Farrell will explain the differences he sees between building Ajax-style interfaces in the enterprise as opposed to what is being done at consumer Web companies such as Amazon and Google.
"If you look at the consumer space, the problems are much simpler, the environments are much simpler and you can create functions that you can't create in the enterprise space," Farrell said.
In consumer companies such as Google and Amazon, the user interface is what the business is all about, so they have attracted programmers with skills in the very latest Web 2.0 languages, he said.
However, in the enterprise space where the business may be about something like building auto parts, Farrell said that enterprise developers typically do not have "bleeding edge" programming skills.
Another difference between consumer Web 2.0 applications and the enterprise is the scope of what can be done with legacy applications, which were designed for a pre-Ajax world, Farrell said.
He said enterprise developers tell him that while they have been able to create Web services to access data from their legacy backend systems, they are still stuck with older UIs that do not lend themselves to easy conversion to RIAs. As they have developed RIAs, they find that when a different Web 2.0 technology, such as Flash, needs to be added to an existing Ajax-based interface, they have to re-write the UI to accommodate it, he said.
Farrell said Oracle has standardized on a JavaServer Faces (JSF)-based RenderKit, which allows the developer who has learned JSF to assemble disparate components into a Web 2.0-style mashup.
If a new technology comes along that needs to be incorporated into the RIA, the agnostic framework can be extended, so the UI doesn't have to be re-written, he said.