Forrester Research is predicting a shake-up in the market for rich internet application development tools as Ajax battles with Adobe’s rival Flex toolset.
The analyst company said the explosion of proprietary Ajax frameworks is threatening to overwhelm the benefits of openness, standard languages and performance that Ajax offers. At the same time, Forrester said Adobe has been working to integrate its own technology into the open source Firefox web browser.
Forrester warned that there were dozens of popular Ajax frameworks, which meant that software architects needed to validate that the framework they planned to use supported corporate standards for security, accessibility, service integration, and data access.
Another drawback Forrester saw was that most developers in enterprise IT prefer visual designers and visual editing tools. But when programming Ajax, the only such tools support available at present are tied to commercial Ajax frameworks, rather than open source tools.
Forrester senior analyst Jeffrey Hammond said in a recent paper, “Choosing a commercial Ajax solution means adopting a proprietary framework and development tools. In this light, commercial Ajax providers look more like Adobe than like open source Ajax tool kits.”
He expected Adobe to turn up the heat by improving its open source strategy. Adobe will squeeze commercial Ajax providers even more by improving support for integrating custom controls into Flex and by pushing Active Script, the scripting language used in Adobe Flash 9, into the Tamarin project run by Mozilla.
Forrester said the number of open source and commercial Ajax tools available to developers was unsustainable. It expected users to delay substantial investment decisions until the market shakes out. Open source tool kits such as Dojo, GWT, and Openlaszlo will benefit because the opportunity cost of using them is low, Forrester said.
Forrester also warned that Ajax developers needed to spend extra time testing due to web browser incompatibility issues. Testing costs increase in direct proportion to the number of browser platforms and versions to be supported, the analyst firm said.
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