The Latest BuzzBy Brian P. Watson | Posted 2007-02-02 Print
Say goodbye to the Web you know and hello to the Web you've always wanted. A variety of frameworks for building rich Internet applications are helping companies save time and money.
THE LATEST BUZZ
Microsoft's ASP.NET Ajaxknown to most by its code name, Atlasis a free framework and toolkit for developing rich Web applications. The offering is one of the latest Ajax frameworksaround 130, to datecompeting for market dominance. Experts believe consolidation is on its way, but until then, an abundance of options exist for technology managers and developers.
But Ajax is by no means a new technology. General Interface, acquired by Tibco Software in 2004, began offering an Ajax library in 2001. The combination of its core businessintegration softwareand Ajax helped Tibco secure Merrill Lynch as a customer.
Earlier this year, Ahmad Fahmy, now a London-based senior technical analyst for Merrill, helped lead a project Stateside to build a service-oriented architecture. One piece involved replacing the front end for a system that managed the firm's voluntary corporate actionsmatters requiring shareholder participation, like tender offers or mergers.
Tibco's General Interface framework helped Fahmy and his team integrate the system with Web services, all while using a browser-based development environment. The team finished the interface in two months; without the Ajax library, Fahmy says, it could have taken 18 months.
Still, Fahmy says adjusting to the new technologies can be challenging. For one, developers can face a learning curve, since working inside the browser is a departure from other development environments.
Moreover, business user adoption could be slow. Technology-savvy users will love the new applications, Fahmy says, but less experienced workers might resist applications that have different controls and layouts. For example, some Ajax applications don't have a "back" button that takes a user to the previous page.
"They are going to look at this for the first time and say, 'What is this?'" Fahmy points out. "Things that have become second nature just aren't there."
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