CyberTech Rambler

May 18, 2006

Google Web Tool Kit

Filed under: Uncategorized — ctrambler @ 1:47 pm

Google just reveals a new toy for web development, the Google Web Tool Kit (GWT). It is designed to write AJAX-enabled website. AJAX is known to be very difficult to develop for because of the complex interaction between browser and server. A lot of people wonder why it appears that Google seems to be the only company that manage to use it well. GWT certainly give us a clue on this topic.

Now, if I understand it correctly, with GWT, you write java code, debug your web page as java program. Then, when you are ready to put up your webpage, recompile it to AJAX-enabled webpages. Yes, you are right, you do not need to know anything about AJAX, Java script and how they interact with the webserver etc. You just need to know Java and GWT well. Amazing!

This is the first time I heard about this new development paradigm where you write and debug application in one language, and have it convert to another language during deployment. Mastery of this is difficult. But by doing so, Google achieved the following:

  • Make AJAX approachable. How much easier can it be if I tell you you can use AJAX (or anything language for that matter) without having to learn it.
  • It is a very good example of the use of abstraction to make downstream programming easier. The complexity of AJAX is abstracted out for downstream programmers. Only the GWT development team needs to know how to manipulate and work with AJAX.
  • It harness the power of Java debugging environment to debug AJAX code.
  • The way GWT harness the Eclipse Workbench probably amaze even the Eclipse Workbench Development Team. It certainly surprises me.

One thing that also surprises me is that GWT does not automatically generate a MS Visual Studio project.

Finally, perhaps surprisingly, I learned a lot about programming just by reading GWT website. 

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