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TIBCO Releases Ajax-based RIA Development Solution

Is the World Wide Web evolving from a collection of Web sites into a full-fledged computing platform—the so-called Web 2.0? The recent resurgence of interest in Ajax is one for the Web-as-a-platform-model column.

Ajax (short for Asynchronous JavaScript and XML) uses browser technology to deliver Web pages that function and feel more like desktop applications. Google put Ajax back on the buzzword list with its Google Maps site.

A number of Web browsers now support Ajax, including Microsoft Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Opera, Konqueror and Apple Safari.

“Ajax is really a description of the capabilities of today’s browsers," says Kevin Hakman, director of product marketing at TIBCO Software. “Internet Explorer had these capabilities as far back as 1999, but with Firefox adding them recently, and highly visible things like Google Maps, we’ve seen a resurgence of interest in this technology. The same technology that Google is taking advantage of in the browser, we’ve been leveraging for enterprise-grade applications since 2001.”

Last year, TIBCO bought General Interface, a supplier of rich-client software for running composite applications in a browser window. TIBCO has since used General Interface's Ajax technology to position itself at the gates of the Web 2.0 world.

This week, TIBCO is releasing the latest version of its Ajax-based rich Internet application (RIA) development solution, General Interface 3.0.

The new version includes the TIBCO General Interface Framework and the General Interface Builder, which is designed to allow developers to deliver highly interactive, feature-rich, Web-based applications that run in a standard Web browser. This thin-client approach is meant to eliminate the need for client-side software installation, end-user plug-ins, ActiveX controls or Java applets, Hakman says.

New features in version 3.0 include:

  • New reusable GUI components, including a client-side charting package, editable grids, and type-ahead combo boxes, among others
  • Enhancements throughout the author-time environment tools, such as hot keys and code completion utilities
  • A new visual binding tool for document-literal SOAP messaging

RIAs are something of a cross between Web apps and desktop apps. In a recent white paper, "Management Update: Rich Internet Applications are the Next Evolution of the Web," Gartner analysts Mark Driver, Ray Valdes and Gene Phifer write that RIAs, by combining the best elements of the traditional fat-but-rich client/server model and the thin-but-poor Web-based model, will enable the Web to evolve beyond the page-based, document-centric metaphor commonly associated with the browser approach."

Hakman sees RIAs as part of the ongoing shift toward service-oriented architectures. “The idea of rich Internet applications is quite synergistic with this Web 2.0 evolution that’s taking us toward service-oriented architectures,” Hakman says. “SOA is the back-end trend, and RIA is the front-end trend, but they create multiplier effect leverage off of each other.”

Gartner's Driver has predicted that by 2010 more than 60 percent of new application development will include an RIA component, and 25 percent will be exclusively RIAs.

TIBCO General Interface 3.0 is now available for enterprises, solution developers and ISVs interested in large-scale commercial deployments. A professional edition of the TIBCO General Interface 3.0 designed to address the needs of smaller-scale deployments will be available for purchase by year end. General Interface 3.0 currently provides browser support for Microsoft Internet Explorer. API support for Firefox and Mozilla Web browsers is planned for future releases.

More information is available at TIBCO.

About the Author

John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached at john@watersworks.com.

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