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3/4/2008
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WaveMaker Seeks To Ease Pain Of Ajax Development

Former startup ActiveGrid relaunches with an updated version of Visual Ajax Studio built around the open source frameworks and Ajax.

The former startup ActiveGrid has been renamed WaveMaker and shifted its emphasis from grid computing to the tool set it built around the open source Spring Framework and Ajax. The result is the revamped Visual Ajax Studio 3.1.1, announced last week.

Ajax Visual Studio may not have all the right elements, but it's an example of the new approach to building Web site applications. Ajax is open source code that lets a Web application carry out interactions with a site visitor without leaving the page already holding the visitor's attention. Despite its Web 2.0 approach, Visual Ajax Studio is aimed at the computer-literate Web site developer but not necessarily C++, Java, or C# programmers.

"We're not focused on high-testosterone developers," said Chris Keene, chairman and CEO, who joined WaveMaker in January 2007. Instead, WaveMaker offers a graphical environment, based on building an application using a set of database forms, making it easier to migrate an Oracle Forms- or Microsoft Access-based application to the Web.

"The MySQL database administrator needs to build an application occasionally. It's hard to do in PHP, harder yet in Java," said Keene as he demonstrated application building with WaveMaker.

Once a form is open in the WaveMaker developer's environment, which runs in a browser window, the developer drags and drops components from the Dojo toolkit. Dojo is an open source Ajax toolkit with a detailed set of user interface components and an ability to use Ajax to track user actions on the client.

Underneath the covers, WaveMaker is producing a Java application but the user doesn't need to know the complex Java 2 Enterprise Edition or Java programming conventions.

WaveMaker is built on top of the open source Java framework, Spring, and makes use of a WaveMaker Rapid Deployment Framework, which adds pieces of open source plumbing for speedy application installation in production. The framework includes JBoss' Hibernate for mapping object-relational data to the database and JSON or JavaScript Serialization Object Notation for text exchanges between JavaScript and other languages,

Keene founded Persistence Software in 1991. Persistence was sold to Progress Software in 2004 for $16 million.

The article was edited on March 5 to clarify the components of WaveMaker software.

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