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Java creator Gosling Outlines the Trouble With AJAX
04/15/2006, By Ajax Impact News

In an interview with eWEEK Senior Editor Darryl K. Taft, James Gosling, the creator of Java and chief technology officer of Sun Microsystems' Developer Products group, believes Sun is leading the way to enabling developers to incorporate Asynchronous JavaScript and XML components into Web applications.

In reply to the question "What's Sun doing in terms of AJAX support and what do you think you could do more of? What are Java developers asking for? " he replied:

JSF [JavaServer Faces] will work well with the various different client frameworks like AJAX
What we're doing these days is a combination of things. One is to make sure that the server-side frameworks like JSF [JavaServer Faces] will work well with the various different client frameworks like AJAX. So using JSF you can build JSF components that download AJAX on the client. They do the interaction using AJAX so that people can use it pretty easily. At a level up we move a lot of effort into the tools so that when you use something like Creator and the enterprise stuff in NetBeans, then you can incorporate AJAX components into the Web pages that you build.

So we end up with this kind of meta-component model, where we can use components of many different kinds and get them to all work together. Whether it's AJAX or applets or plain old HTML, they all play together. And that works pretty well. That's sort of the area that we get the most demand from developers.

The place where there's sort of black magic right now that we're trying to figure out what to do in, is around how you create AJAX components. We can make it pretty easy to use AJAX components. There are a bunch of folks out there that just need to use them. But there's a dramatically smaller community of people that create them.

Creating them is extremely hard. Not because programming JavaScript is hard, but because all these flavors of JavaScript are ever so slightly different. You have to build your components so that they're adaptable to all the different browsers that you care about. And you have to figure out how to test them. None of the browsers has decent debugging hooks. We could build little things for people where they could test these components.

The problem is that it wouldn't be exactly the same environment as being inside Internet Explorer or being inside Spark or being inside Firefox. And those environments are pretty limited. Pretty much all you can do is include a bunch of printf's—capture the log input as printf's—[with] no ability to look at variables or segue points or single-step things. There's no ability to do cross-platform QA; you've just got to do them one by one. Right now it looks pretty hopeless to make AJAX development easier.

Other than Java, what would you say have been some of Sun's bigger successes in software?

Solaris for sure. Solaris has been a really big deal for us. The Solaris guys have really been on a tear lately. The stuff in Solaris 10 is really cool. If you go to some Web sites you can get the early builds for Solaris 11. I've been running Solaris 11 for quite a while now. Just the ZFS stuff alone is definitely worth the price of admission. A long time ago I used to be a sys admin and I never had a tool that was that easy for administering data files. It's very cool.

   Read Complete Interview with Gosling

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