Google To Unveil GWT 1.5 at Developer Conference
- By John K. Waters
Google is set to unveil the latest version of the Google Web Toolkit (GWT) at the company's first big developer conference, Google I/O, scheduled to run this week (May 28 and 29) in San Francisco.
Browser compatibility is no small issue for developers, said Ray Valdes, research director in industry analyst firm Gartner's Web services group. "It has only been in the last couple of years that browsers have reached the level of consistency and compatibility that allows you to write to standards, rather than the individual browsers," he said. "In the past you sort of had to developer for Microsoft's Internet Explorer and just forget about everybody else. Now you have Firefox growing in popularity. Apple's Safari actually has dominant market share on laptops costing more than a thousand dollars. And you have the mobile browsers."
The GWT is one of about 150 Ajax toolkits currently available to Web developers, but its Google pedigree is likely to send it toward the head of the line, Valdes said. He ranks it among the top toolkits, along with Dojo (which he ranks number one, in terms of developer usage), Prototype, jQuery, Mootools, and Ext JS.
"Of course, everybody has an Ajax toolkit," Valdes said. "Microsoft has one called Atlas, even though they have ASP.NET. Adobe has one called Spry, even though they have Flex. Yahoo has one called the Yahoo User Interface Library (YUI), which of this group is the one that is the most complete, and powerful, and gets the most developer support. None of these are money makers, they're not strategic, they're not always formally supported, and they can be directly competitive with the vendors other products."
Google has a leg-up because of its brand name, Valdes said, but also because the search giant "showed the world how Ajax could be used," with landmark applications such as Google Maps and Gmail. Google's own developers used the GWT to create Google Maps, Johnson commented.
Lombardi's developers initially created an alpha version of the tool using Dojo, but they found it difficult to do things like refactor. Also, its tooling didn't stack up to the available Java tools. And in the end, it just didn't integrate with the company's existing tool chain.
To give attendees at his conference session an idea of the size of the application created with the GWT at Lombardi, Moffett has been counting lines of code. "If you exclude all white space, all comments, and all lines with single breakers on, there are 36,000 lines of code compiled with the GWT compiler. It's big."
This is Google's second major developer event. Last year the company sponsored its first Developer Day, which involved 10 cities around the world. The company is expecting 2,500 attendees at the San Francisco conference, which will offer two days of in-depth, technical sessions on building the next generation of Web applications with Google and open technologies. Technical sessions will cover, among other topics, OpenSocial, the Google App Engine, Android, the Google Maps API, and the Google Web Toolkit.
The "I/O" in the conference title is a play on input/output that actually stands for "Innovation/Open."
John K. Waters is a freelance journalist and author based in Palo Alto, CA.