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IBM's David Boloker Delivers Deep View of OpenAjax Alliance

IBM Internet CTO David Boloker Talks about the Net, Web 2.0, and OpenAjax

"It’s all about the interface," said David Boloker, CTO for Emerging Internet Technology at IBM, and the driving force behind the OpenAjax Alliance. Boloker, during his presentation at the Real-World Ajax Seminar in New York, said the "promises of richer user interfaces, encompassing all devices" lie behind the original vision for the alliance.

He said he spoke with Zimbra's Scott Dietzen in late 2004, before the term "Ajax" was coined, about how "it would be really nice if we cold do something across the whole industry to grow the new web paradigm," as it was called back thenn. "Today, Ajax is expected to fulfill many promises, but hurdles remain," he added. "There are so many announced products, yet Ajax is not yet mainstream to developers."

He noted a lack of interoperability among toolkits, an issue that the Alliance identified as its number one concern during recent meetings in San Francisco. "For example, what if you like a widget from one toolksit, and other widgets from other toolkits? You can't use them all now."

He also noted that "education costs (to learn Ajax) are high. There's complexity, and writing in javascript is not easy, sharing information back with the servers is not easy," he said. He said a major goal of the Alliance is to "use open standards that already exist, use de facto standards. And we have to make sure we leverage the server side work in languages and environments such as PHP, Java, and .NET."

The OpenAjax Alliance now has 34 members, Boloker said, "and all new members are welcome. We'd love to talk to companies who are interested in joining." Boloker said that he had been performing what he termed "shuttle diplomacy" ove the past several months among the various new and prospective members of the Alliance. "You can only go so far on the phone," the Boston-based Boloker said. He said he has spent significant amounts of time on the West Coast in discussions with many Alliance members.

As just one example,  Boloker said he had just spoken again with Sun Microsystems, which has not joined the Alliance, although discussions continue. He said he originally contacted Jonathan Schwartz about Sun's potential participation, and that discussions with various Sun executives are continuing.

The Alliance now has a website, www.openajaxalliance.org. Boloker believes that the group can encourage "growing usage of Ajax in applications, which will foster innovations in open and closed source frameworks.  The community and applications produced will enable Ajax's future functionality."

Boloker, noting that his workload had increased "by about 200 to 300 percent" since his shuttle diplomacy started, said that day-to-day activities are now being handled by new IBM John Ferraiolo, who is based on the West Coast and has come over to IBM from Adobe. Ferraiolo said that group members are now working to have another group face-to-face meeting in the September timeframe somewhere in the San Francisco/Silicon Valley area.

Meanwhile, Boloker said "we need to preserve investments as well as preserve the open nature of the web itself.  We need to preserve the cross-browser, cross-platform, and cross-vendor aspects we have."

More Stories By Roger Strukhoff

Roger Strukhoff (@IoT2040) is Executive Director of the Tau Institute for Global ICT Research, with offices in Illinois and Manila. He is Conference Chair of @CloudExpo & @ThingsExpo, and Editor of SYS-CON Media's CloudComputing BigData & IoT Journals. He holds a BA from Knox College & conducted MBA studies at CSU-East Bay.

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