Eclipse offers AJAX server

With RAP, developers can build AJAX applications "completely in Java".

The Eclipse Foundation will make available Monday Eclipse RAP (Rich Ajax Platform) 1.0, an AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML) server for building and deploying rich Internet applications.

Leveraging the Eclipse component model that based on the OSGi (Open Services Gateway initiative) standard, RAP 1.0 is suited for enterprises and enables development of component-based applications that can integrate with existing systems. RAP 1.0 is freely downloadable.

With RAP, developers can build AJAX applications "completely in Java," said Jochen Krause, project leader for RAP at Innoopract.

"The benefit is many developers know [how] to write Java code," he said. "If you look at enterprise IT, you find very few people that are seasoned in JavaScript."

"Our key strength is we can use the Eclipse component model," deploying plug-ins to extend applications, said Krause.

Featured in RAP 1.0 is the ability to build RIA or Eclipse RCP (Rich Client Platform) applications from the same Java code base. Also included are Java development tools and frameworks for building AJAX applications that support user interfaces, complex widgets, and data-binding.

RAP's ease of use was cited by one early user.

"RAP is very easy if you have skills in Eclipse/RCP technology. Even if you have developed Java desktop applications, RAP has a lot of similar concepts," said Roberto Sanchez Custodio, CEO of Autonomind, which has used RAP for developing a public Web application.

Using RAP, though, has had its trials. Using Milestone 2, there were typical issues such as API changes, bugs and poor documentation. But most of these problems have been solved now, Custodio said. There also have been some features missing that other Java Web frameworks have, such as a visual graphical editor for Windows, he said.

Custodio also said he thinks RAP is too oriented to Eclipse/RCP developers instead of Java Web developers.

RAP differs from another AJAX project at Eclipse, the AJAX Toolkit Framework (ATF), in that ATF features an IDE for tooling while RAP is a server-based runtime for AJAX applications, Krause said.

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