Google's next web toolkit thinks it's better than you
Fastest fingers in the West
GWT Conference Just as Microsoft was brushing aside claims that Volta, its latest .NET programming toolkit, is a Google Web Toolkit (GWT) clone, Google has disclosed how it plans to open the gap on rivals with the next release of its popular AJAX toolkit.
Johnson called performance a "paramount" issue as networks remain the "weak link" when connecting to online applications and services. One focus for Google is speed of code compilation. "Having smart protocols between the device and server is one area where we could focus more engineering effort," Johnson said.
However, Google is taking a more hands off approach when it comes to building GWT widget libraries. With GWT licensed under Apache, Google expects the community to build most libraries. Google will instead focus its efforts on "the most complex libraries, where we can draw on Google's expertise in the internet."
Also outside Google's plans, according to Johnson, is a GWT port to Google Gears and support for Microsoft's Silverlight, now expected as a second beta next Spring following some version number juggling by Microsoft.
In fact, he appears to believe these differences create an opportunity for GWT. GWT was created to solve lingering usability problems with browser-based internet access, such as web site warnings to users not to hit the back button during a transaction even when the transaction has hung, or Postdata messages that serve to confound and alarm the ordinary internet user.
The toolkit has been downloaded "millions" of times, according to Google, although it has no figures on actual uptake. It does, though, tout Google Maps and Gmail as adopters, along with Lombardi Software's Blueprint modeling tool, DoubleCheck's Sarbanes Oxley compliance software, Gpokr and Kdice as applications and services that have been written in AJAX using GWT.
"GWT is about calling out what it is [wrong] and saying it must be addressed," Johnson said.
"Standards are great and we would love it if they were implemented consistently - if they were some of these mistakes would go way for developers... [however] we have to make a choice: do we stick to that standard at the expense of the end user or do [we do] what's best? Sometimes a behavior or a particular standard is more efficient in some browsers.
"There will continue to be a role for GWT because there are tangible productivity qualities," Johnson said.®