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Tech Titans Contribute Browser-Boosting Ajax Technologies to Open Source Community


“Open Ajax” Initiative Members to Drive Collaborative Innovation to Make the Web Easier to Use.

Armonk, NY - 01 Feb 2006: Prominent computer industry vendors and Internet-based businesses today announced that they are making it easier for an open-source community to form and popularize Ajax. Ajax is a fast-growing open client technology that businesses are incorporating into their external and internal Web sites to simplify the browsing experience, and make it easier for users to shop, work, plan, correspond and navigate online.

Ajax makes it unnecessary to manually refresh one’s browser to send or receive information over the Web. Instead, information is automatically updated and available on demand, allowing you to “drag and drop” or input information and get a response without refreshing the browser, much like you would do on a PC desktop. It can reduce the steps needed to complete a transaction over the Web or create a competitive edge for enterprise companies and Web designers, for example.

The initial supporting members of the new initiative -- dubbed Open Ajax -- include BEA, Borland, the Dojo Foundation, Eclipse Foundation, Google, IBM, Laszlo Systems, Mozilla Corporation, Novell, Openwave Systems, Oracle, Red Hat, Yahoo, Zend and Zimbra. They intend to promote Ajax’s promise of universal compatibility with any computer device, application, desktop or operating system, and easy incorporation into new and existing software programs.

Ajax -- short for Asynchronous JavaScript and XML -- is a type of “Rich Internet Application.” It enables Web innovations, including:

* The ability to update portions of a Web page without refreshing the entire screen. This can, for example, enable users to scroll through a virtual map or photographs without refreshing their browser screens. It can also enable calendars to pop up when a user mouses over a date in an email.
* Determining, on the fly, that information typed into a Web screen is appropriate -- such as when entering information on an order form. This can eliminate the delay and frustration of submitting an online form, only to have the server flag mistakes one at a time.
* Dragging and dropping of objects inside a Web browser similar to the capabilities available on computer desktops to move folders and documents around.
* A rich set of buttons, icons, scroll bars, menus and widgets that can ease and speed navigation, as well as simplify information retrieval.

Ajax, similar to Web services technology, can be incrementally adopted into existing applications and Web sites, as needed. This characteristic makes it more cost effective and manageable.

To enable rapid adoption of Ajax by the broadest community of software developers, IBM has proposed the contribution of its software to the Eclipse Foundation and Mozilla Corporation that will allow one to develop and debug an Ajax application. The proposed Eclipse Ajax toolkit framework is the first approach that supports multiple Ajax runtime toolkits. Its personality builder can typically enable additional toolkits in less than an hour. The runtimes presently supported are from Dojo, OpenRico and Zimbra. Moving forward, other community members will also be able to participate in the proposed Eclipse project with the incorporation of other personality builders or toolkit extensions.

San Mateo-based Zimbra, which has been developing Ajax applications for two years, will make its Ajax runtime toolkit available to the community under Apache and Mozilla public licenses. The runtime toolkit provides an object-oriented JavaScript class library with a standard set of widgets, an event framework, and communication tools. The resulting applications can be served from virtually any server and run in any browser, including Internet Explorer, Firefox and Safari. Going forward, this Open Ajax industry initiative will also continue to be well integrated with the Kabuki Ajax Toolkit Project recently accepted for incubation by the Apache Software Foundation.

Other community members are expected to be active in the future. Participation will involve the Dojo Toolkit, an Open Source JavaScript library. It is an Ajax runtime that allows users to build responsive applications using simple and powerful application program interfaces. Applications built on Dojo easily adapt to changing standards and browser capabilities because Dojo is portable between HTML, SVG and other emerging standards.

Open Ajax Community Comments:

“In BEA’s AquaLogic User Interaction and WebLogic Portal, we support Ajax as a technology for building richer Web-based user interfaces that will significantly improve the user experience,” said Kent Dickson, vice president of engineering at BEA Systems. “We also believe in the power of open-source, community based creation and evolution of programming frameworks, and expect this effort to accelerate the maturation and adoption of Ajax.”

“Developers are building rich, innovative Web applications using Ajax that can bring exciting benefits for end users,” said Rob Cheng, director of developer solutions for Borland. “As a leader in software development solutions, Borland is pleased to collaborate with other industry leaders to advance this technology in an open, broad-based manner.”

“By building a community of innovation around Open Ajax, we are ensuring that the Web remains a place where breakthroughs can occur and where developers can quickly create applications to transform how businesses and people use, interact and access information on the Internet,” said Rod Smith, vice president of emerging technologies at IBM. “This is an important step in IBM’s effort -- on behalf of our clients -- to work with a broad coalition of industry leaders to bring open frameworks into computing solutions, and we’ve already been embracing Ajax and other technologies in our Lotus, Websphere and Rational products to deliver these capabilities to businesses around the world.”

“Ajax is already changing the face of the Web and it’s central to OpenLaszlo, an open source Web application platform used by many thousands of developers today,” said Kent Libbey, Chief Marketing Officer of Laszlo Systems. “We’re delighted to join this impressive group of technology leaders in promoting open Ajax platforms to accelerate the evolution of rich and robust Web applications.”

“Novell is a strong proponent of open standards and open source. We’re tapping Ajax in the Novell-led open source collaboration project, Hula, to create dynamic user interfaces for end users without the burden of deploying client-side software,” said Jeff Jaffe, EVP and CTO at Novell. “By creating a framework for promoting open collaboration on Ajax, the Open Ajax initiative will foster collective innovation around this important technology and help make the Web an even more productive tool for users worldwide.”

“Ajax substantially enhances the interactivity, performance and usability of browser-based applications,” said Ted Farrell, Chief Architect and Vice President of Tools and Middleware for Oracle. “Oracle is committed to Ajax technology and many of our products including Oracle JDeveloper 10g R3 utilize Ajax standards. As a result, we are making it easier for developers to reap the benefits of Ajax today and in the next generation of application development.”

“Ajax is gaining popularity because it enables compelling user interfaces on the Web. PHP, with its state-of-the-art XML support, is the infrastructure behind many of these modern Web applications,” said Andi Gutmans, a key contributor to PHP and co-founder of Zend Technologies. “We fully support this initiative and believe that it ensures that Ajax remains open and driven by community innovation.”

“Ajax is sure off to a great start,” said Scott Dietzen, Zimbra President. “But Ajax will only achieve its potential if it remains a multi-browser, multi-client, multi-server, and multi-tool web standard. Open source Ajax widget toolkits like Zimbra’s and open source Ajax authoring environments like the IBM proposed Eclipse extensions are the best way to protect Ajax investment today and ensuring continuing innovation tomorrow.”


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