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Dynamic Ajax an Opportunity For Eclipse

Two Ajax projects and one dynamic language project are announcing new milestone releases today, as the Eclipse Foundation delves deeper into dynamic development.

The Eclipse Rich Ajax Platform (RAP) is rolling out the first milestone build of its 1.0 release. RAP is the Ajax equivalent of the Eclipse Rich Client Platform (RCP), which has figured very prominently recently in IBM's cross platform application development effort with Lotus and other enterprise applications. Eclipse RCP enables rapid cross-platform development allowing applications to be deployed on Windows and Linux operating systems.

Mike Milinkovich, executive director of the Eclipse Foundation, told internetnews.com that RAP takes the programming ideas behind RCP and brings them to Ajax so developers and organizations can use existing Java skills sets in deploying Ajax applications.

Though RAP is closely related to RCP, Milinkovich said it is a separate project with a lot of shared technology from RCP. RAP starts off with a basic RCP core runtime, but it includes features that provide an Ajax front end and it focuses on running in the browser.

The other Ajax project, Ajax Toolkit Framework (ATF), is an IDE for Ajax developers and provides the main elements of an IDE, including a debugger and inspection tools. The project is hitting its 0.2 milestone release today.

"One of the most interesting things about ATF is that it has a personality framework," Milinkovich said. "One of the things that makes it difficult to deal with the Ajax world is that Ajax is a single label for a great many different technologies. There are a lot of different client-side frameworks that developers use for building Ajax apps."

The different client-side Ajax frameworks that ATF supports include Dojo, Rico and Zimbra (kabuki), and it is now adding support for scriptaculous. The 0.2 milestone release is also adding support for Mac OS to the existing support for Linux and Windows.

Milinkovich said that even though ATF hasn't yet hit its 1.0 release, it is already being adopted and used in commercial products.

The third dynamic project with a milestone release today is the Eclipse Dynamic Language Toolkit (DLTK), which hits version 0.7.

DLTK is a dynamic language toolkit and extends Eclipse to make it easier to build IDEs for dynamic languages. The 0.7 release includes support for Tcl, and the upcoming June release will extend it further with support for Ruby and Python.

Eclipse has expanded greatly since it was first created five years ago when it was all about the Eclipse Java IDE . With today's releases, Milinkovich said that the projects are aiming to build greater interest in the community and help further commercial adoption in the long run.

"Success for the Eclipse project is not just about building interesting things but about building technologies that others want to use," said Milinkovich. "And that is clearly what we want to happen."