At The Ajax Experience 2 Continued: Browser competition moves Web applications forward

Jack Vaughan

Read The Ajax Experience 1: Google Chrome shakes up the browser firmament.

"Last year I called for a 'browser war,'" chided JSON and JavaScript expert

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Doug Crockford, "Because the Web standards process had failed us."

Corkford's sentiment echoed others who felt the Ajax crew had revived Web browsers, but had to do too many browser workarounds. Crockford, who works as a developer evangelist at Yahoo, said ECMAScript, CSS and HTML standards were not moving along. They had "lack of focus," and, perhaps worse, "bloat."

"The thing that is moving the Web forward now is competition," he said. Still, he cautioned, "there is risk that competition may destabilize the Web."

"Developers must be a pressure group to keep that from happening," said Crockford.

The Ajax landscape continues to be a place of many frameworks, but several of these library frameworks seem to have gained ground in terms of general acceptance. They are also beginning to take on similar traits. In some cases, they have even shared code.

"We've seen a lot consolidation not around the libraries themselves, but around the ideas of the libraries," said Almaer. [Ed Note: Preliminary results from's 2008 Java Survey found that prototype (31.1%), Dojo (30.8%), GWT (28.6%), jQuery (25.3%), and Scriptaculous (22.4%) head the list of Ajax frameworks used in that Java developer community.]

IE 8 Beta 2 in wings
In the browser field, versions of Microsoft Internet Explorer still represent the most numerous single group. IE 8, now in Beta 2, is aimed at achieving greater CSS-compliance in such areas as table layout and added support for pseudo classes. A 'more interoperable HTML 4.01 implementation', stronger HTML 5 support and interoperability fixes for the Document Object Model (DOM) are due.

Performance related features include native JSON support within the JScript engine for IE 8 Beta 2, according to a blog entry authored by Shreesh Dubey, product unit manager of the Microsoft JScript. That means developers can use a native JSON object to serialize and de-serialize JScript objects. Also on tap: a script profiler to help identify performance bottlenecks in scripts. Meanwhile, separate browsers work in effect as separate processes.

IE 8 Beta 2 is said to have a faster JavaScript engine that minimizes the load time for Ajax Web pages. On the Ajax framework front, .NET developers are most likely to select the ASP.NET Ajax framework rolled out two years ago, and tweaked in the interim.

But Microsoft has its work cut out with the browser, said John Resig, lead developer of the jQuery Ajax library project and JavaScript Evangelist for Mozilla.

"In browsers, Microsoft is not competing very strongly in terms of performance, and that is the big metric now. Before it was about conformance," said Restig. ''Microsoft's problem is that it hasn't completed the hurdles of the last 'browser war.'"

The competition, in fact is more heated, and the browser world is once again a busy place.

Read The Ajax Experience 1: Google Chrome shakes up the browser firmament.

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