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RIA & Ajax: Article

Aptana Releases Jaxer 1.0 AJAX Server

Open Source application server based on the Mozilla Browser simplifies web development

Aptana has announced the 1.0 release of Aptana Jaxer and the introduction of Jaxer Pro, both "AJAX servers" that let developers create entire web applications using the ubiquitous set of languages common to web browsers: JavaScript, DOM, CSS, and HTML. To achieve this, Jaxer embeds the open source Mozilla Firefox browser engine within a server so that developers can have the same execution environment on the application server as they have in the web browser - a simplification of web technologies that reduces complexity in the development and management of web applications. Jaxer is free, open source software. Jaxer Pro provides the same technology under a commercial license with support from Aptana. Jaxer 1.0 is also now available in Aptana Cloud, a scalable application hosting and lifecycle management service from Aptana.

Jaxer's full featured application framework lets developers use JavaScript on the server to interact with databases, file systems and networks and provides server sessions, image manipulation, and many other capabilities typical of application servers - only easier since it uses the same languages that web pages use. Jaxer also enables popular AJAX libraries such as jQuery, prototype, dojo, or others to run on the server. Since Jaxer provides a full HTML DOM during page execution, these AJAX libraries or JavaScript's own DOM APIs can be used to modify and personalize web pages before they are served to the browser. Without native DOM support, other servers must translate and manipulate text strings to do even the simplest manipulations of a web page.

Developers using Jaxer can easily include both client-side and server-side code in the same HTML page. By adding a "runat" attribute to portions of their JavaScript code, developers tell Jaxer which code to run on the server, which code to run on both the web page and the server, and which server functions the web page may communicate with after the initial web page has been served.

For example, the code used to validate a form can run on both the client to provide user feedback before submission as well as on the server to assure secure, proper input values. The developer need only create and maintain this script in one location in one language. In systems where different languages are used, work must be duplicated and often falls out of sync since different teams implement the different parts.

Jaxer simplifies AJAX communications as well. Instead of forcing developers to work with the low-level communication APIs and protocols in the browser, write and maintain many lines of code, Jaxer lets developers expose JavaScript functions running on the server to the web page and execute those functions as if they were part of the web page. Jaxer automates AJAX communications with the server, passing the functions parameters to the server, executing the server code, and providing the result of the server code to the function in the web page. Using this technique, developers can, using a single language to more easily perform AJAX communications to integrate with databases and file systems, get data safely and securely across domains for mashups, send email, interact with the server operating system and perform other processes that web pages alone could not otherwise do.

Creating RESTful data services for consumption by AJAX applications or widgets typical of Facebook and OpenSocial applications with Jaxer is easy as well. Jaxer natively supports JSON and XML (E4X) and provides a simple APIs for delivering pages or data via RESTful interfaces. Native support means that you need less code to transform between these common data types. Such services can also work with Adobe Flash or Microsoft Silverlight, both of which support the JavaScript language.

"All the ways that Jaxer simplifies web development seem so obvious given their immediate utility and ease, the only reason they have not been done before is because application servers and web browsers have never had the same native set of technologies before," said Paul Colton, CEO and founder of Aptana. "The idea of Jaxer, that a server could be just like a web browser from a web developer's point of view, is a natural evolution of web technologies."

More Stories By RIA News Desk

Ever since Google popularized a smarter, more responsive and interactive Web experience by using AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript + XML) for its Google Maps & Gmail applications, SYS-CON's RIA News Desk has been covering every aspect of Rich Internet Applications and those creating and deploying them. If you have breaking RIA news, please send it to RIA@sys-con.com to share your product and company news coverage with AJAXWorld readers.

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