The goal of enterprise Web 2.0 is to democratize the development of web applications by lowering the learning curve. Enhancing Eclipse does nothing to solve the fundamental skills gap between the Java "high priests" and the traditional application developers who are skilled in visual tools like Access and PowerBuilder.
Eclipse is the heavyweight champion of the heads-down Java server programming world. Ajax is the lightweight champion of the rich internet client world. These are clearly different tasks, so presumably would benefit from using different tools. Other than masochism, why would someone decide to saw logs with a hammer?
Given the cost and difficulty of hiring Java developers, putting them into the UI design role is a waste of resources. In addition, the skills that make a developer good at server programming do not necessarily translate into web page layout skills.
- Studio for lightweight page assembly: Web 2.0 application developers need a visual and lightweight tool for assembling web pages - they need a DreamWeaver for Ajax.
- Java server framework for seamless services integration: the web pages created by a Web 2.0 application developer should integrate seamlessly with a standard Java back end using something Json/Spring/Hibernate server.
I ranted a bit more on this topic here at WebGuild and here at Ajaxian
You take on a sacred cow, you're likely to get the attention of a few cowboys. My piece drew a rant from this Eclipse-bigot. The priceless quote from him was "Chris Keene doesn't understand get Eclipse, and therefore I don't think he gets Ajax either." Ajax is a good plug-in for Eclipse, but Ajax doesn't need a heavy-weight IDE to succeed, it needs a lightweight tool!
I'm curious, what's your definition of lightweight? DreamWeaver?
Eclipse cowboys there may be, but I don't get the aggressive anti-Eclipse take, either. In fact, to use the blog model, what I think people find appealing about Eclipse is its open, community-based, extensible nature, which is exactly what attracts some of us to platforms like WordPress. Don't get me wrong: Eclipse, WordPress, doesn't matter, all of these are imperfect tools and none is the right solution to everything. But to me, Eclipse is part of the puzzle as far as exactly what you describe. And "visual" and "lightweight" are two different things ... Eclipse might not satisfy those two principles, but neither do some of your examples.
I see a potential deployment pattern where an administrator installs a thin client app on a server and informs all their intranet users of the product. The users start using the thin client tool and some decide that they are using it so much that they click the web-installer of the desktop version because they are more accustomed to working this way. This satisfies both sets of users while reducing the admin headache.
@Ronan, I think there is a very good use case for a Java-driven client like GWT, RAP or SWT.
My focus is on users coming from the visual tool world (Notes, PowerBuilder, Access, VB) for whom Java/Eclipse is too heavyweight.
Our hope at ActiveGrid is to provide a visual platform for building web apps, while making sure that the generated apps meet IT requirements (e.g., run in Java server, etc).
The exciting thing about Ajax is that it opens the door to rich visual tooling that will be both familiar and attractive to developers coming from the visual tool world.
For anyone who has invested much in the Java technology utiliies like RAP, GWT, Java2Script and similar technologies are enabling them to put their client-side work in the browser.
Slowly AJAX will enable everything what can be implemented on client. And then: AJAX and Client side apps will merge - AJAX will provide everything a standalone clint can provide today.
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