• Back from JAX

    May 14 2006

    I had a really nice time in Wiesbaden, Germany at JAX 2006. Apart from being in a gorgeous city, the conference had some interesting content. Most of it was about Java technologies and I won't bore you (and myself) with too much of that, but I also attended sessions on Ruby on Rails, Groovy and AJAX.

    It was interesting to get a sense of where the industry is moving. Dynamic languages are becoming much more important, although I find "real" developers are hesitant to move in that direction. Personally, I love the concepts behind Groovy and Ruby. They speed up development and take away much of the painful grunt work involved in regular programming. They might be slower, but in the future as servers get faster, I don't think this will be such a problem.

    Another striking trend was an overwhelming buzz and a sense of confusion and mystery around AJAX. Remember, this was a Java conference so many of the participants don't work directly on the web. Some only heard of AJAX for their first time at JAX. There seems to be a big divide between programmers and designers, and neither seems to understand advanced JavaScript programming. Programmers have avoided JavaScript, considering it a simple scripting language. Designers have avoided it for being a programming language. Now that some really sophisticated user interfaces are possible on the web, both sides are starting to get really excited.

    Until now, I've totally hated the term AJAX. It's just a buzzword slapped on to something that JavaScript developers have been doing for years, and you know how much I hate buzzwords. Now, I see that it has helped to create awareness and get people excited about the possibilities in the browser. I don't think we will be using the term AJAX for many years, but at the moment it has gotten many people to take web applications more seriously and to start thinking about how they can improve the web. This is always a good thing.

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