March 11, 2006

Upcoming Ajax Tradeshow

Ajax is new framework for programming which is gaining momentum very quickly. Thin clients (web based) will benefit and at the core it lets you treat content as pieces put together, any one piece being able to updated at any time. It is hottest thing since XML/RSS/Atom. Here is more information.

Integration Developer News
Saturday, March 11, 2006

Experts Speak at May’s Ajax Experience
3/8/2006 | Print Version

by Vance McCarthy
Ajax is re-charging server side Java developers’ interest in the client. On May 10-12, in San Francisco, more than 2 dozen of the top names in Ajax will share insights, techniques, and use cases at The Ajax Experience.

Among The Ajax Experience speakers are: Jesse James Garrett (Father of Ajax), Michael Mahemoff (Creator of Ajax Patterns), Ron Smith, (IBM Fellow), and Don Almaer, ( co-founder) IDN spoke with Almaer about the event, and about why Ajax has developers – and end users – so excited. The Ajax Experience comes as enterprise interest in Ajax is hitting a tipping point, Almaer told IDN.

“Frankly, we are seeing a lot more interest than I thought we would at this point, and that it would be confined to testing or playing around with it. But the interest in Ajax is way beyond that,” Almaer said, noting a recent survey of Ajax use in the enterprise.

The Ajax Experience – May 10-12, 2006 – San Francisco, CA

Join 25+ Ajax experts, including Jesse James Garrett, Michael Mahemoff, Joe Walker, Dion Almaer and leading technologists from Sun, IBM and even Microsoft at The Ajax Experience, May 10, 2006, in San Francisco. Event attendees will receive 3 full days of Ajax technical information, including: architectures, frameworks, use cases, patterns, tools overviews and walk away with know-how for building eye-catching Ajax apps. Click here for program details and registration.

“We put a study up at Ajaxian asking questions about how and where developers are using Ajax. And, to our surprise, 70% of developers told us they were well past the testing phase – and already in production. That was amazing to us, and that statistic just shows how easy Ajax is to learn, and how useful it is for some many projects,” he said.

The Ajax Experience event is co-produced by and No Fluff Just Stuff, and is being held the week prior to JavaOne. “The thinking here that for all those flying into San Francisco for the annual JavaOne, we wanted to make it easy for them to also come to The Ajax Experience and learn about the client side,” Almaer told IDN.

There’s one more mission behind the Ajax Experience, Almaer added: To dispel the myths that Ajax is just to hard to be useful.

“As soon as Ajax got big, Microsoft and Macromedia are a little afraid of Ajax, I think,” Almaer told IDN. “They say that Ajax is ‘rocket science’ and that you need to hire Adam Bosworth to do this stuff. This event will show developers that is all BS. More than 70% of Ajax users we’ve polled already have Ajax in production, and this event will show developers how applications can written in Ajax in only a couple of days.”

Among other Ajax experts presenting at The Ajax Experience are:

# Ben Galbraith - Book author, Ajaxian-at-Large, and Consultant
# Alex Russell - Founder & Project Lead for The Dojo Toolkit
# Dylan Schiemann - Co-founder of the DoJo Toolkit
# Bill Scott - Creator of Rico & Ajax Evangelist at Yahoo!
# Bob Ippolito - Creator of Mochikit
# Brad Neuberg - Creator of Really Simple History, AMASS, Dojo Contributor
# Bram Smeets - Interface21, Core Developer of Spring Modules and DWR
# David Geary - Best-selling author on Java component frameworks
# Eric Pascarello - Co-author of Ajax in Action
# Jason Hunter - Author of Java Servlet Programming
# Jonathan Hawkins - Microsoft Atlas Lead
# Rich Manalang - Creator of Monkeygrease

In the following IDN interview, Almaer tells us more about what these Ajax experts will share during The Ajax Experience, and offer some quick ideas on how Ajax is changing the way devs think about client-side apps and a tip or two for how Ajax can impress the boss.

An Integration Developer News
Interview with
Dion Almaer, Co-Founder of
(and presenter at The Ajax Experience)

IDN: What exactly is in Ajax, and how did it come by its name?
Almaer: Ajax was coined by Jesse James Garrett, who is a UI guy, not a techie dev guy, really. He was talking to business people about some of the cool new things he could do on the client, like real-time refresh, and they had a hard time getting it. So, he spelled out the pieces. And, Adam Bosworth brought in the XML-HTTP request object, which lets you go dynamically back to the server and request more info whenever you want, so you don’t need to do full page refreshes.

# [Wikipedia defines Ajax as a collection of technologies, like LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP/Perl scripts) is for the Open Source stack. The Ajax components include: XHTML (or HTML), CSS, for marking up and styling information.
# The DOM accessed with a client-side scripting language, especially ECMAScript implementations like JavaScript and JScript, to dynamically display and interact with the information presented.
# The XMLHttpRequest object to exchange data asynchronously with the web server. In some Ajax frameworks and in some situations, an IFrame object is used instead of the XMLHttpRequest object to exchange data with the web server.
# XML is commonly used as the format for transferring data back from the server, although any format will work, including preformatted HTML, plain text, JSON and even EBML.]

IDN: Is the Wikipedia definition common for all Ajax apps or users?
Almaer: That’s what exciting about Ajax. For us, we see it slightly differently than Jesse [James Garrett] does. We see Ajax as an architecture -- and not just a set of technologies. So, ability to go back to the server at any time and change multiple pieces on the page is the key concept [behind Ajax]. There are frameworks that make it easier and will degrade for you, and let you create a hidden “I Frame” for example. And, we also consider Flash a part of Ajax, while Jesse does not.

IDN: I assume all these technologies will be discussed at The Ajax Experience?
Almaer: Absolutely.

IDN: Are there any other technology pieces you find interesting for Ajax?
Almaer: There is a bridge that lets you talk between JavaScript and a webpage and Flash. So, that means you can have a little Flash component you could use to display web stats or give you an interactive chart in Flash. We can also use Flash to kick off audio, so the user experience is way beyond just XML or CSS.

IDN: What are some cool examples of where Ajax gives me that real-time browser experience?
Almaer: Well, there are so many cool ones. We see live polling a lot. And, with Jot live, which lets you share documents, with Ajax you share your documents live in your browser and as you are typing it will show up in all the browsers of the people you are sharing with.

And, we also built our own version of Google Maps with Ajax, where you can fly through the air and do other keen stuff in real-time without refreshing your browser. We built that application in less than 2 hours.

IDN: What do you think is behind the spike in interest in Ajax?
Almaer: Well, when Flash first came out it offered some very cool effects for browsers. But, people also got burned using it too much or had trouble working it with JavaScript, and so people left the client and focused on the server. But now, client development is cool again, and today it is much easier. Google Maps and gMail have been a wake up call for us in enterprise development to start paying more attention to the client again. After all, that is what the user sees. And, as Java becomes more competitive for developers, people are really seeing how Ajax work on the client can really differentiate themselves from competition.

IDN: What’s an example of where the business guys actually encourage Ajax work?
Almaer: Well, we know a travel company that offers an itinerary builder. Before Ajax it was spec’ed to be very cumbersome, and used something like 12 different screens. I could use Ajax to do all that in one screen, and it would only take a few days. And it gives the user a really cool experience. He can click on day 1, see a virtual tour of the Louvre, and then with one click move to day 2 – on the same screen. He would just see the Louvre tour fade away, and take him to Day 2’s activity.

IDN: That’s a cool B2C example. How about for the enterprise? Is Ajax also getting traction for portals, both with customers and within a company?
Almaer: Absolutely! Ajax means we can finally do portals right. Portals with Ajax are so much easier to build, and the user experience is so much richer, and we’ll be talking about that also at The Ajax Experience. In the early example, every little portlet in the browser page was an “I Frame”. That was a nightmare. You would hit the back button once, and all of a sudden all your portlets would be out of synch. And, in the Java world, we would do a lot of that work on the server, which could be difficult because anytime you would change anything on the portlet, it would have to call back to the server to regenerate the whole screen. It really could be a huge mess.

IDN: And Ajax cleans up that mess how?
Almaer: With Ajax, we can now build a little portlet that has its own life cycle. Such as stock tickers that can change to show you different ticker symbols without having to go back to the server every time.

IDN: And, with so many tools and server side vendors supporting Ajax, do you see Ajax getting even easier?
Almaer: Yes, Ajax will get a lot easier There are a number of areas where vendor support is on-going, and will get better for Ajax. Java Server Faces, for instance,. will get more AJAX support and even make it drag and drop. And with Tibco, you will also get drag-and-drop, so you will start with a blank pallet to drag things around to generate Ajax apps – it will be just like Visual Basic insofar you will have a client application without having to write code. And, it will integrate with web services and everything else.

Get Started with Ajax Patterns, Frameworks
IDN: Any other Ajax trends that attendees will get tuned into at The Ajax Experience?
Almaer: Another big step ahead we’ll be talking about is the Ajax framework bandwagon, which will take care of a lot of the client integration and browser bug issues. Dogo, Prototype and Sciptaculous will be discussed.

IDN: And will you offer user advice for getting started?
Almaer: There will be talks on Ajax patterns, such as fade-anything and update-live. While these are cool techniques for the developer, it is important not to get carried away, and to offer prompts for notifying the user that these new ways of changing their page are taking place.

IDN: Sounds like Ajax can give me both the steak and the sizzle?
Almaer: Exactly, and we will share a bunch of real-world case studies on killer AJAX technologies. Also, a whole bunch of Java vendors will be there and show you how to write Ajax apps from scratch. It’s going to be a great event.

For more information or to register for The Ajax Experience, held May 10-12 in San Francisco.

Posted by keefner at March 11, 2006 02:49 PM