Spurred by Ajax, the Rich Internet Application renaissance may make for exciting times in the programming world, but it also threatens to create a new church and state separation between presentation specialists and the application developers building Web services.
Since the goal of a service-oriented architecture is to create rich, customer-facing business services, that separation could cause a last-mile breakdown in many business initiatives. To breach that gap before it forms, ClearNova Inc. today released a new rapid application development (RAD) platform with an open source framework that ties together J2EE [Java 2 Enterprise Edition] and Ajax.
"Ajax has more to do with Java than you think because Java is how many Web applications and services are going to be built," said Steve Benfield, ClearNova's vice president of strategy. "Though Ajax is a browser-based technology, you'll be calling the server more than you think."
Integrated, well-orchestrated agility is one of the keys for SOA. When a business change gets made, a Web service needs to absorb the change and quickly make the recomposed service available to the customer.
The ClearNova RAD has been released a day after Microsoft unveiled the beta version of Atlas, its implementation of Ajax for ASP.NET. Richard Monson-Haefel, an analyst with Burton Group, said he believes that the IT industry should expect a wave of Ajax development tools because of the technology's ability to enrich the user experience.
"Ajax is going to play a major role in how we interact with Web services," he said. "It's going to fundamentally change how we use the Web and developers are going to have to leverage that."
Benfield expects a rapid turnover on the presentation side to occur within the next two years, necessitating an integrated, loosely coupled development environment.
"It's a way of separating all the individual widgets you're building from having to know anything about other widgets," he said.
ThinkCap JX integrates two dozen open source frameworks, including Struts and Hibernate, and runs on any Java application server, such as IBM WebSphere or Apache Tomcat. It uses two open source Ajax libraries, prototype.js and script.aculo.us, that are also central to the Ruby on Rails project.
It also offers Eclipse integration and visual Web services development tools for more than 60 different enterprise platforms, including SAP, Oracle and CICS.