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The time to adopt web application technologies is now

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Jim_Holland3.jpgApplication developers are today being driven to change for many of the same reasons they are always driven to change – users want new features, business models and methodologies are changing, there are new languages and frameworks, and, new architectures. So, the race is on to improve development; to make it easier, faster and to bring users closer to it. Keith Fenner, Strategic Sales Director, Softline Accpac, says the time for traditional software companies to adopt web application technologies and business practices is now.

The advent of Web 2.0 has put developers at a critical juncture with web site performance. The majority of all new application projects use Rich Internet Application (RIA) technologies such as Ajax, which is also getting a lot of attention from the developer community as a new technology to deliver SOA-enabled composite applications. This confirms that the need to test RIA technologies is more important than ever.

“The web is already the platform for doing business efficiently and quickly,” Fenner says. “As the penetration of high-speed and broadband Internet access increases, web technologies continue to evolve to deliver new user experiences and increased application utility. The Rich Internet Application (RIA) is another step in that evolutionary process. Nowadays these richer user experiences are being implemented with technologies such as Flash, Ajax, and Java, using standard Internet and web protocols.”

He says the Google Web Toolkit (GWT) has attracted a lot of attention lately as a way to make it easier for developers to add AJAX Web 2.0 features to their applications. The recently launched GWT 1.5 produces code faster than ever and delivers performance gains big enough for end users to notice. Google says the trick is in the deep inlining, better dead code elimination, and other forms of enhanced static analysis.

Softline Accpac will in the near future be using Java and the GWT to develop its user interface programmes as native zero footprint browser independent web screens. “For this environment we will be using the Eclipse IDE. Other Java development environments can be used, but all the samples will be for Eclipse. We will then be using related open source tools like Nant and JUnit,” Fenner says.

Like other approaches, the designers of GWT have tried to insulate developers from having to deal with the underlying JavaScript, which implements these features. GWT achieves this goal of simplifying the creation of advanced client-side JavaScript widgets by generating them from Java code.

Eclipse software provides an avenue for combining several tools in a single application. A programmer could, for example, use a code editor in conjunction with a testing tool from the same front-end interface. Fenner says the availability of many Eclipse plug-ins, and the fact that developers can download Eclipse free, has helped fuel the adoption of Eclipse with Java developers and Java software companies.

“To stay ahead of their game, developers need to create applications virtually on demand for immediate use,” Fenner concludes. “To achieve this, they need to completely revamp and revitalise their approach to applications development. Another challenge facing developers is the advances in mobile computing. Innovation is, therefore, a key component of application development, in addition to helping to drive the customer’s competitive edge.”

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