AJAX, JavaServer Faces ties to get stronger

AJAX, JavaServer Faces ties to get stronger

Panelists tout technology combination

With AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML) and JSF (JavaServer Faces) component technology representing a one-two punch for Web development, plans are moving forward to strengthen support for AJAX in the JSF specification.

Panelists at the JavaOne conference in San Francisco on Thursday discussed the linkage between these two sets of technologies. AJAX and its attendant JavaScript code work on the client, and JSF resides on the server. Although developer issues remain, such as which AJAX framework to use in Web development, AJAX itself will be better accommodated in version 2.0 of JSF, due in 2008.

JSF 2.0 will feature a small JavaScript library. "It'll allow you, at the very least, from your JSF component or from any old piece of JavaScript in the page, to call back into the JSF lifecycle from JavaScript and have it all run and get back to you. It'll enable partial update of the page," said panelist Ed Burns, a senior staff engineer at Sun Microsystems and specification lead for JSF.

Also to be featured in JSF 2.0 is Comet, which offers a programming technique in which an open socket is leveraged to speed up browser requests to the server.

The current version 1.2 of JSF has a small degree of JSF support, with the ability to declare a separate lifecycle for handling AJAX requests, Burns said. Also, a component can be invoked to individually address a row while doing an AJAX transaction.

Sun previously has discussed JSF 2.0 as Project Dynamic Faces, noting it would bolster AJAX support.

Burns noted the difference between AJAX and Sun's newly announced JavaFX technology, which features a scripting language called JavaFX Script. JavaFX does not run inside a browser, he said. "It is a rich application that runs on its own," he said.

In addition, Sun has revealed an internal effort called Project Flair, which leverages a Web kernel and JavaScript and has been positioned as an alternative to AJAX programming.

One panelist, representing AJAX framework builder Backbase, urged that capabilities such as interoperability and push technology be bolstered in AJAX development products, given competition from new technologies such as Adobe Flex and Microsoft Silverlight.

"I think we have to get our act together to bring all this functionality that we discussed today," said Mark Scheifelbein, vice president at Backbase. "We have to get these into the solutions really quick."

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