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IBM Donates New JavaScripting Tool To Open Source

The goal is to make it easy for business analysts and other nonprogrammers to build basic, interactive Web applications.

Charles Babcock

October 4, 2006

2 Min Read

IBM has developed a JavaScript tool it says will make it easy for business analysts and other nonprogrammers to build basic, interactive Web applications.

JavaScript is one of the basic ingredients of Ajax, which is behind such interactive Web applications as Yahoo Mail, Yahoo's Flickr photo editing and display site, MySpace.com, and Google Maps. With Ajax added, Web site users can drag and drop objects in their browser windows or have the Web server anticipate what data they'll be looking for next. Those abilities contrast with the early days of the Web, when all users could do was download another HTML page. The interactive technologies are sometimes lumped together as Web 2.0.

David Boloker, IBM's CTO of emerging technology, unveiled the tool during a keynote at the AjaxWorld show on Wednesday in Santa Clara, Calif. The first version of the tool won't be available until the end of the year. But a trial version will be made available in November on IBM's alphaWorks Services section of its alphaWorks developer site. It's been dubbed Quick and Easily Done or QED, Boloker said.

One of the hallmarks of the JavaScript tool was its ease of debugging freshly written code. "Debugging what's happening in JavaScript has always been a nightmare. Knowing what's going on in the browser window has always been hard," Boloker said.

The tool can highlight issues in the JavaScript displayed on the user's screen and show in a window on the left what components and software objects are available to include in the application under construction. Automating JavaScript and Ajax development has been a high priority for Web 2.0 development.

Boloker estimated that one in 40 programmers had the skill to debug JavaScript when Ajax first appeared as a defined programming pattern about two years ago. The skills have spread to one in 20 today, he said. IBM's goal with QED is to make JavaScript programming a skill that one in five can use. The Firefox browser is the working browser window inside the tool at this time. Boloker said IBM will add Opera and Internet Explorer in its future releases.

The Dojo Ajax toolkit is supported by the tool, but not other Ajax toolkits. The toolkits vary widely and are incompatible because standards are still being specified for how Ajax components should behave.

IBM will donate Ajax technology to the open source Eclipse programmer's workbench and plans to include Ajax-generating capabilities in its Rational Application Developer when it issues a new release at the end of the year.

About the Author(s)

Charles Babcock

Editor at Large, Cloud

Charles Babcock is an editor-at-large for InformationWeek and author of Management Strategies for the Cloud Revolution, a McGraw-Hill book. He is the former editor-in-chief of Digital News, former software editor of Computerworld and former technology editor of Interactive Week. He is a graduate of Syracuse University where he obtained a bachelor's degree in journalism. He joined the publication in 2003.

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