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Nokia is evaluating broader use of AJAX with its handsets, having put a stake in the ground with this year's launch of the third-edition S60 device. Lee Epting, vice president for Forum Nokia, told The Register Nokia is determining how it can use AJAX, specifically in relation to its open source, Safari-based browser announced in November 2005.

In a recent interview, Epting indicated that broader support for AJAX, or Asynchronous JavaSript and XML, would largely depend on the reception its Safari browser has among members of the company's Forum Nokia developer community. Forum Nokia is home to some 1.3m developers building mobile applications and services for Nokia handsets using Symbian, Java 2 Mobile Edition (J2ME) and C++.

"A lot of it has to do with the availability of the newer browsing platforms. We are going to have to look at developers. That's where AJAX will be getting a lot of play," Epting said.

She was unwilling to provide further details of what Nokia has planned with AJAX, but said: "We are in discussions around strategy and what we support." [No kidding - Ed}

AJAX is enjoying almost viral success among Web 2.0 developers and a growing number of Silicon Valley software start-ups. AJAX has been seized upon because it let ISVs and services providers, like Google, give their online services the level of interface functionality and responsiveness traditionally only found on desktop applications. AJAX has added potential for mobile devices, because it supports applications that function in "occasionally connected" mode.

Epting said AJAX is "very important" for developers working with open source and consumers of online services because it puts that feature-rich interface on online services.

Two years ago, Nokia added support for the Python scripting language, itself undergoing a renaissance among developers, to its smartpone platform.

Epting noted scripting languages have also taken on unexpected significance for mobile developers because they support open source, are relatively easy to learn, and provide a fast RAD-like programming environment. Another advantage, especially for Nokia, is the ability to use scripting on increasingly smaller devices.

"I don't think people initially believed developers who are focused on mobile devices would be interested in scripting for mobiles," Epting said.

Nokia’s support for AJAX has been welcomed by at least one Nokia partner. Paul Fulton, chief executive and president of mobile systems developer Orative, called AJAX "fabulous" because it gives mobile devices dynamic access to online content without the need for the user to manually refresh the page.

He noted, though, AJAX could face some limitations in the mobile world because of issues like network latency and poor connectivity, which often delay access to services. "It will take some time before the response time is good enough for consumers. It has to be instantaneous," Fulton said.®

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