Sun Evangelist Doris Chen Shares Her Enthusiasm for jMaki

Though I had to miss Sun evangelist Doris Chen’s session, “Building Rich Web Applications Using jMaki,” she graciously consented to an interview.
Q: I understand you had standing room only at your session. Tell us about jMaki.
Chen: AJAX Architect for Sun Microsystems, Greg Murray, developed jMaki in 2006 as an open source universal interface to leverage all the best widgets from different toolkits so you don’t have to learn them individually. It’s one of the easiest and most powerful AJAX frameworks to help people get started with AJAX development. It has a lot of momentum behind it – it’s being covered at JavaOne and AJAXWorld, and there is a jMaki Forum with a strong community.
There are a lot of default settings and templates to get started with so there is not a steep learning curve. In fact, you should be able to start any jMaki application with NetBeans’ help within five minutes. The architectural concept is not difficult, so Java beginners and web page authors can use jMaki. We have a saying that all toolkits are good, but wouldn’t it be nice to leverage all the best widgets from different kinds of toolkits and then have a universal interface so you don’t have to learn each one? With jMaki, people need only have to learn one API or one interface and can leverage all the best widgets in the world.
Q: It takes the pain out of scripting languages.
Chen: Yes, the idea is not to make you write more JavaScript -- on the contrary jMaki has a NetBeans plugin, so you can use it in NetBeans in drag and drop. You can use it to see all the JSP code generated in the NetBeans IDE, and minimize a lot of JavaScript writing. Eclipse also has a plugin for jMaki as well. So you have a lot of tools support.
It is also independent, and you can download it from the jMaki site and make it work with Ruby and Rails; with PHP and so on. It doesn’t have to be used with NetBeans or any IDE to develop. Also, jMaki is a framework that is AJAX toolkit based on JavaScript. So it’s not like a pure Java approach such as JavaServer Faces; it’s more like the AJAX toolkit domain.
jMaki on the Server Side
Q: How does it work on the server side?
Chen: jMaki is not just for the client side. It works well with serverside technology. It works with JPA so you can connect it to a traditional enterprise layer for the back-end data, or database, or EJB, or other kinds of back-end layers. So it works well with a database.
Q: How would it work on the back end?
Chen: You have your own tags for your JSP file and then on the middle layer you have the Server Controller or another JSP to take care of the communication between the view layer and the model layer. The model layer remains untouched.
Q: So that simplifies the developer task.
Chen: Exactly. For people who have existing applications they don’t have to touch the back-end development. All they have to do is perhaps use some of the jMaki widgets to make the client side more interesting and interactive, so it’s more like a rich client application.
Also jMaki works well with the RESTful web services, for example, RSS Feeder, and all the Geocoders which will calculate all the geo locations. And it works with the Flickr search in all the RESTful web services. jMaki provides a very good interface, so all the widgets are tuned in such a way so it will be very easy to adopt those servers to go with the widgets. You don’t have to work a lot with your widgets because on the back end all the data models are consistent. The idea is to have a consistent data model and all the widgets, whether a table or menu or a tree, it’s just a matter of the details of the basic widget itself and the data model supports the GUI components.
Q: Anywhere else jMaki is useful?
Chen: There are a lot of simple applications using jMaki in corporate level projects. Especially I heard about a company that has their own customized widgets and wanted to use Dojo or Yahoo or Google and had a difficult time putting all the different widgets together into a nice framework, so they had a lot of integration and resetting problems. They are doing well now with jMaki.
Q: So looking toward the future, how will jMaki evolve?
Chen: I think the technology and architecture of jMaki is a very good design will probably migrate more into the other NetBeans support for Web 2.0. jMaki may work very well with JavaServer Faces Woodstock components.
We have new technology every day. Some of it will survive and some will not. Technology must be simple enough for people to easily get started with it. It must reduce complexity and improve productivity. jMaki does all of this, so I think it will last a long time.
See Also
jMaki Wiki
jMaki Forum
Learn more about Sun Tech Days.
Janice J. Heiss

We were really glad to see Doris Chen in the Java Developer Day 2008 in Athens. Her presentation on jMaki was excellent. Just keep the good work!

Posted by Nikos on June 17, 2008 at 08:43 AM PDT #

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