A few months back, we predicted that at some point, somebody would have to play the heavy with Ajax standards. You had the makings of another Java-style scenario: the rest of the world coalescing around the OpenAjax Alliance, with Microsoft remaining the prime holdout.
Well maybe we were wrong.
What made OpenAjax palatable to Microsoft is what they aren’t doing. For instance, while OpenAjax is dealing with IDEs, it’s not creating them. While it’s pursuing interoperability, it says it’s not developing standards.
We’ll say that they’re not developing formal standards. Because, when you’re trying to figure out a way for the couple hundred (and counting) Ajax frameworks and tools out there to some how handshake, well, you’ve got to come up with something that they all understand. We’d call it standards lite.
So, as they figure out how to let different IDEs mix and match Ajax components from different sources, somebody’s got to define a standard means of expressing metadata so Ajax widgets can be identified. And, when you’re mashing up web apps on the fly at run time, you’d better have some sort of traffic cop mechanism to ensure that different Ajax controls don’t grab the same screen real estate at the same time. So that’s where the OpenAjax’s Hub project comes in.
What’s interesting is that OpenAjax has managed to remain almost under the radar, as if they were ducking to avoid getting spotted by the attorneys. The guy heading the group is simply the head of the steering committee. He’s not a CEO, president, or executive director, and he still spends three quarters of his time for his day job. He even hope that once the group has “done” its work, that it will simply vanish.
But under the radar, a bunch of developers figured out that you could kluge rich clients out of web browsers with these technologies. Maybe Adobe, IBM, and Microsoft had other plans. But once a cowboy developer gave the programming style a name, and Google put it on the map, vendors had to backtrack themselves to serve a budding community that was turning into a market in spite of them.
In all likelihood, the fact that Ajax caught vendors with their trousers down probably helped lower their defenses. More importantly, with the realization that the true money to be made would come from harnessing the way that these new Ajax-style dynamic web technologies could generate instant, limited shelf-life apps, why bother arguing over widgets?