Scripts Are IP Too

Ajax is hot here in North America, but it appears to be on fire in Eastern Europe, Brazil, China, and India. A recently published Evans Data survey of 400 developers in those countries reveals that the popular combo of asynchronous JavaScript and XML is definitely the Web dev du jour in the so-called emerging markets.

The survey found that about 25 percent of developers in Brazil are using the technique; that's the most of any country surveyed by Evans. China had the lowest adoption rate in the survey, with just over 16 percent, which was closest to the North American rate of 18 percent.

Evans president John Andrews characterized Ajax adoption globally as strong, but he said that adoption in the emerging markets is downright aggressive. ''Given that these developers are spending a majority of their time developing Web applications,'' Andrews said in a statement, ''we only see this trend continuing.''

PHP is catching on in these areas as well, the survey found. The largest numbers of developers using the popular, general-purpose, open-source scripter were found in Eastern Europe (39 percent). Just over 31 percent of Indian and Brazilian coders are using it, and 21 percent of the Chinese developers surveyed were PHP users. In North America, 35 percent of developers are using PHP, according to Evans.

I've shared before in this space the concerns of various security gurus about a world swarming with JavaScript (buffer overflows, cross-site scripting, etc.). Doug Levin, CEO of Black Duck Software recently pointed out to me a risk that might accompany all popular scripting languages. ''Engineers don't take them seriously,'' he said. ''They're not real languages, like C and C++. Many have no idea that scripting is in the realm of copyrightable materials or is protected by IP rights. But believe me, it is.''

Waltham, Ma-based Black Duck provides technologies designed to identify the pedigree of the code floating around an organization--including scripts. ''We anticipated this trend from the inception [of the company,]'' Levin said. ''Ajax has been hot for the last year or so, but server-side scripting has been around for a long time.''

The knowledge base of Black Duck's flagship protextIP product can take in high level languages, such as C and C++ (the company currently takes in 75 different languages of that sort), but also JavaScript and Java related libraries. ''We have an ongoing effort to expand our knowledge base to include JavaScript and Java libraries as they're developed and as they are published on the Internet,'' Levin said.

Tom Snyder, CEO of iNetOffice, the provider of such browser-based office applications as the iNetWord online document and Web page editor, agrees that scripts have added a level of complexity to the increasingly dynamic Web. ''When these components are integrating with each other as richly as they are, virtually every major functionality somehow invokes other major components,'' he says. ''And that raises more questions: If I pass you this copyrighted XML, what rights am I granting you? I'm asking you to display it on a map, say, but what other rights do you have? Can you cache it, report, sort it, build bar graphs about who's doing what with certain mapping services?''

All of which leads to a relatively simple, but potentially critical admonition: Scripts need to be covered with the same rigor as any other code.

Other findings of interest from that Evans survey:

• Forty-two percent of respondents are using flash, a considerably higher percentage than is found in North America.

• Increased usage of Linux for embedded operating systems is expected across all regions. China is leading the way with 39 percent of developers there projecting growth, while the Eastern European region is the area showing the greatest resistance.

• Nine out of ten emerging-market developers use Windows as the primary platform on which they host development.

BTW: A couple of week's ago I mentioned Black Duck in my LinuxWorld preview, and I cited a story from the company's Web site about the origins of its name. As reported on the site, it comes from a wounded American Black Duck that Levin found and nursed back to health when he was seven years old. ''I don't really know whether it's true,'' I wrote, ''but it's a cute story.''

Last week I heard from Fran Levin, Doug's mother, who charmingly informed me via email that the story is true: ''When [Doug] was seven years old, he found this wild duck that was wounded,'' Mrs. L wrote. ''He nursed it back to health, built a cage for it, and took care of it for a while. I don’t remember how long he had it, but I can say it bit him a lot and was totally wild. He eventually released [it] into Long Island Sound. I know he was sad, but it was good for the bird.''

Now that's a cute story.

About the Author

John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached at [email protected].