Tuesday, August 22, 2006

More Cool Stuff From Google

Yesterday at work, I heard about Google Web Toolkit (GWT) for the first time. I read their docs and played with a couple of the samples last night, and I'm quite convinced it's really cool stuff!

Basically, it's a framework for AJAX development. It includes a DOM/HTML-based widget toolkit and facilities for localization and asynchronous RPC over HTTP. You use these to write and debug your client in Java, and then use their tools to convert it into JavaScript, which can be added to host HTML and served up from any old Web server. The server side of your application runs as Java bytecode, with the RPC mechanism providing seamless object-based communication between the two.

Not surprisingly, my original motivation for looking at this technology was to try to integrate it with everyone's favourite modeling technology to provide instant browser-based model editor UIs. I'm not sure it's terribly well suited to this task, since with AJAX, you're typically trying to put as much into the client side as possible. The client side is ultimately JavaScript, so of course the EMF runtime isn't available there. So, it seems that some significant glue would be needed to get data across. Also, GWT lacks an equivalent to JFace viewers, so demand-populating a widget like a tree might be more difficult, too.

Anyhow, I think it might be more fun to use this stuff to try to develop some sort of practical Web application, rather than the kind of generic framework stuff that I do all day at work.

Hmm...I just need a good idea...

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