Google Updates AJAX Dev Tool

Google has posted a Release Candidate of Google Web Toolkit (GWT) 1.4, the latest version of its developer tool for building AJAX-based Web applications and sites. Bruce Johnson, technical lead on the project, announced the release candidate on a Google  blog.

GWT 1.4 RC is the first release of the toolkit to make heavy use of contributions from open source developers. Johnson wrote that “Many of the biggest improvements in GWT 1.4 RC came from ideas and patches contributed by the community,” and offered his thanks to the developers.

Johnson said that ImageBundle is the single biggest “have-to-see-it-to-believe-it feature of GWT 1.4 RC.” This feature makes it simple to combine dozens of images into a single “image strip,” like a slide show, so instead of an HTTP request for each image, only one HTTP request is needed for the entire collection.

Version 1.4 features optimized code that is 15 to 20 percent smaller, which should translate into faster load times. Optimizations to the startup sequence should reduce the size of startup script by 80 percent, and elimination of HTTP round-trips could reduce the load time for modules by 33 percent.

Also with this version the RPC is no longer tied exclusively to Java servlets. Developers can connect to their choice of Java back-ends. Cross-site script inclusion is now supported as well.

The library and widget collection have been significantly expanded and enhanced to add new functionality to applications, plus there’s a benchmark for comparing code performance.

Steven Yaskin, chief technology officer of Queplix, said his company has been using GWT to assist in building its services for migrating legacy CRM applications to a Web 2.0 world. After assessing a number of tools, he said he saw a clear advantage in GWT.

“What made us go with GWT was Google showed tremendous commitment to the open source community in general. Since then I think that was one of the greatest decisions we ever made, not just from being endorsed by Google but from a technology point of view as well,” he told

With the new release, Yaskin has noticed the improvements in performance. “Some preliminary figures show a twenty percent decrease in load time, bringing it closer to or even superseding the desktop experience. The system definitely allowed our product to behave like an installed desktop app while running inside a browser. So we were able to leverage all of the AJAX technologies,” he said.

Google will demonstrate GWT on Thursday at its Google Developer Day conference. It has not set a release date for the final version of GWT.

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