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Wednesday, February 01, 2006

The Eclipse AJAX Toolkit Framework (ATF) Project

IBM and several other software companies have proposed an open-source project to simplify development tools for AJAX-style Web development.

Called Open Ajax, the proposed open-source project will be based on IBM-donated code designed to let software developers use the Eclipse development tool to write Web applications using AJAX.

AJAX Toolkit Framework (ATF) will provide extensible frameworks and exemplary tools for building IDEs for the many different AJAX runtime offerings (Dojo, Zimbra, etc) in the market. These frameworks will contain features for developing, deploying, debugging and testing AJAX applications. Tools built upon these frameworks will initially include: enhanced JavaScript editing features such as edit-time syntax checking; an embedded Mozilla web browser; an embedded DOM browser; and an embedded JavaScript debugger. Because it is a framework, ATF will provide for the development and incorporation of additional AJAX development tooling. ATF will use existing Eclipse extensions for web application deployment so that the environment will be "server agnostic" - that is, a developer may easily extend the framework to deploy their AJAX application to an arbitrary new class of server. Initial adapters will include a J2EE / JSP adapter and an Apache / PHP adapter. An additional and unique aspect of the framework is the Personality Builder function, which assists in the construction of arbitrary AJAX runtime frameworks, thus allowing those runtimes to be used with ATF tools.

ATF Tools
Note that the initial contribution focuses heavily on the use of Mozilla because the Mozilla system offers cross-platform interfaces to enable such things as JavaScript Debugging. However, as a framework, ATF exposes a prototype API that would allow for the incorporation of arbitrary browsers with comparable function as they become available.

Enhanced JavaScript Editing Features
Batch and as-you-type syntax validation
JavaScript Debugger
Tight integration with Eclipse debug UI to provide flow control in browser runtime and the ability to examine JavaScript code and variables
Embedded Browser
Access to browser's DOM, e.g., Mozilla XPCOM
DOM Inspector / JavaScript Console
Mozilla tools integration for DHTML developers as Eclipse Views.

Rhino, JSLint
Used for JavaScript syntax validation
XULRunner with JavaConnect
Mozilla-specific code to enable the embedding of the Mozilla browser within a Java container (Eclipse)
AJAX Runtime
ATF is tooling for arbitrary AJAX runtimes. The initial distribution will include tooling support for
Note: one or more of these initial AJAX runtimes may move to, but whether the runtimes are part of is irrelevent to this proposal.
Eclipse Platform 3.2 and WTP 1.0

Interested Parties
Support has been expressed by:

Read the complete proposal here

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