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Friday, January 4, 2008

Ajax Frameworks and Libraries - part1

The year 2006 has seen a rapid proliferation of Ajax and Javascript frameworks, from small cross-browser wrapper utilities to complete end-to-end client and server solutions. In this post, let's take a snapshot of some of the current range of offerings. These frameworks which will be described include the functionalities they had in that particular year and might have changed a lot as the time passed.

1. AccessKey Underlining Library
Open source
www.gerv.net/software/aul/
Adds accesskey underlining to pages without requiring tags in the source. Tag items with the accesskey attribute and javascript will create the appropriate underlining tags in the DOM.

2. ActiveWidgets
Commercial with free download
http://www.activewidgets.com/
Rich client JavaScript widgets; current flagship product is a rich grid widget.

3. Ajax JavaServer Faces Framework
Open Source (Apache)
http://smirnov.org.ru/en/ajax-jsf.html
The Ajax-JSF framework is designed to allow simple conversion of any existing JavaServer Faces application to Ajax functionality. Most of the existing components can be used as is or simply converted to Ajax support. Proposal to MyFaces project. Minimal differences from JSF specifications.
4. Ajax JSP Tag Library
Open Source
http://ajaxtags.sourceforge.net/
The Ajax JSP Tag Library is a set of JSP tags that simplify the use of Asynhronous Javascript and XML(Ajax) technology is JavaServer Pages. This tag library eases development by not forcing J2EE developers to write the necessary JavaScript to implement an Ajax-capable web form. Autocomplete retrieves a list of values that matches the string enteres in a text form field as the user types. Callout displays a callout or popout balloon, anchored to an HTML element with an onclick event. Select populates a second select field based on a selection within a drop-down field. Toggle switches a hidden form field between true and false and at the same time switches an image between 2 sources. Update Field updates one or more form field values based on the response to text entered in another field.

5. Ajax.NET
Michael Schwarz(2005)
Unspecified, free to use http://weblogs.asp.net/mschwarz/
Ajax.NET is a library enabling various kinds of access from JavaScript to server-side .NET. Can pass calls from JavaScript into .NET methods and back out to Java-Script callbacks. Can access session data from JavaScript. Caches results. No source code change needed on server-side; mark methods to expose with an attribute. Provides full class support for return values on client-side JavaScript, including DataTable, DataSet, DataView, Arrays and Collections.

6. AjaxAC
Open source(Apache2.0)
http://ajax.zervaas.com.au/
AjaxAC encapsulates the entire application in a single PHP class. All application code is self-contained in a single class (plus any additional JavaScript libraries). The calling PHP file/HTML page is very clean. You simply create the application class, then reference the application JavaScript and attach any required HTML elements to the application. No messy JavaScript code clogging up the calling HTML code; all events are dynamically attached. Easy to integrate with the templating engine, and hook into existing PHP classes or MySQL database for returning data from sub-requests. Extensible widget structure lets you easily create further JavaScript objects.

7. AjaxAspects
Free to use with source
http://ajaxaspects.blogspot.com/
AjaxAspects is an engine that uses JavaScript proxies to call server-side Web Service methods. Standard SOAP and WSDL is reused for the communication between client and server. Simple types and XML objects are supported as parameters and return values. Supports caching and quueing of actions.

8.AjaxCaller Michael Mahemoff(2005)
Open Source
http://ajaxify.com/run/testAjaxCaller
AjaxCaller is a basic thread-safe wrapper around XMLHttpRequest mainly for Ajax newcomers; still raw alpha and under development and is only packaged with the AjaxPatterns live search demos for now. Follows REST principles.

9.AjaxFaces
Open source(ASF)
http://myfaces.apache.org/
Apache's JavaServer Faces implementatio; currently experimenting with Ajax support.

10. BackBase
Commercial with community edition
http://www.backbase.com/
BackBase is a comprehensive browser-side framework with support for rich browser functionality as well as .NET and Java integration. BackBase provides Rich Internet Application(RIA) software that radically improves the usability and effectiveness of online applications and increases developer productivity. With BackBase you can build web applications with a richer and more responsive user interface. BackBase provides separation of presentation from logic through a custom XHTML namespace.

11. Behaviour
Ben Nolan(2005)
Open Source
www.ripcord.co.nz/behaviour/
Behaviour works by using CSS selectors to add JavaScript code to DOM elements. You can create a hash of CSS selectors and functions that take an element, and add JavaScript event handlers such as onclick. You then register these rules against a page and compare them against their matching DOM elements and the JavaScript code is added. The code is designed in a way that you can treat these rule files just like stylesheets so that all the page using them needs is an include. Behaviour's goal is to remove the heavy use of onclick attributes and script nodes from pages so they aren't messing up content. It works well and help make your JavaScript more reusable since it's more centralized.

12.Bindows
Commercial
http://www.bindows.net/
Bindows is a software development kit that generates highly interactive Internet applications with richness that rivals modern desktop applications using the strong combination of DHTML, JavaScript, CSS and XML. Bindows applications require no downloads and no installation on the user's side; only a browser is required(no Java, Flash or ActiveX is used). Bindows provides a range of widgets as well as native XML,SOAP and XML-RPC support.

13.BlueShoes
Commercial with free version
http://www.blueshoes.org/
Rich component suite, including a WYSIWYG text editor and spreadsheet widget.

14. CakePHP
Open source
http://cakephp.org/
A comprehensive port of Ruby on Rails to PHP, including top-notch support for Ajax.

15. CL-Ajax Richard Newman(2005)
Open Source
http://cliki.net/cl-ajax
CL-Ajax directs JavaScript calls directly into server-side Lisp functions. Generates JavaScript stub with arguments. Can call back to JavaScript functions or DOM objects. May be integrated into SAJAX.

16. ComfortASP.NET
Pre-release commercial with free download
www.daniel-zeiss.de/ComfortASP/
ComfortASP.NET is an approach that lets developers rely on pure ASP.NET programming while offering Ajax-like features. ComfortASP.NET uses Ajax (DHTML, Javascript, XMLHTTP) to implement these features, but the web developer only implements pure server-side ASP.NET.

17. Coolest DHTML Calendar
Open Source with commercial support
www.dynarch.com/projects/calendar
Configurable Javascript calendar widget; can be wired up to form fields as a drop-down or pop-up and styled using CSS.

18. CPAINT (Cross Platform Asynchronous Interface Toolkit)
Open Source(GPL and LGPL)
http://cpaint.sourceforge.net/
CPAINT is a true Ajax implementation and JSRS (Javascript Remote Scripting) implementation that supports both PHP and ASP/VBScript. CPAINT provides you the code required to implement Ajax and JSRS on the back-end, while the returned data is manipulated, formatted and displayed on the front-end in JavaScript. This allows you to build web applications that can provide near real-time feedback to the user.

19. Dojo Alex Russell (2004)
Open Source
http://dojotoolkit.org/
Dojo provides several libraries for use with Ajax, including widgets, an event model, and messaging using XMLHttpRequest and other techniques. Aims to support JavaScript in a range of settings, including SVG and Netscape's Java based Rhino engine, as well as in the web browser.

20. DWR (Direct Web Remoting)
Open source
www.getahead.ltd.uk/dwr
Direct Web Remoting is a framework for calling Java methods directly from Java Script code. Like SAJAX, it can pass calls from JavaScript into Java methods and back out to Javascript callbacks. It can be used with any web framework - such as Struts or Tapestry - following a Spring-like KISS/POJO/orthogonality philosophy. Direct Web Remoting is due to be incorporated into the next release of the Open Symphony WebWorks framework.

21. Echo 2
Open source (MPL or GPL)
www.nextapp.com/products/echo2
Echo 2 allows you to code Ajax apps in pure Java. Automatically generates HTML and Javascript, and co-ordinates messages between the browser and the server. Offers messaging in XML. The developer can handwrite custom Javascript components if desired.

22. f(m)
Open Source
http://fm.dept-z.com/
The f(m) project is an ECMAScript Base Class Library, based on the .NET Framework, that was written to serve as the foundation for a new breed of browser-based web applications.

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