GWT (Google Web Toolkit) - just another framework?

Many Java developers avoid Javascript – and for good reasons. For one thing, it means dealing with the ins and outs of browser differences, and for another, Javascript makes it easy for developers to make mistakes. It also lacks well-developed tools known and valued from the Java environment.

For this reason, in many web frameworks, the business processes and process management take place on the server. Representation on the browser is left to the web framework and a widget library. This has serious disadvantages for operation, since the website is reloaded for every action. Even with AJAX support, a request to the server is needed for every action. This makes interactive applications tough.

Traditional web frameworks thus have their natural limitations, and are out of the question for capture-intensive and interactive applications. Separate widgets, Javascript libraries, and Javascript snippets can cam to shift this limits somewhat, but the limits are essentially still there.

Generating Javascript without programming Javascript

Many users have got used to increasingly convenient web applications in their daily lives. Google, Facebook and Microsoft lead the way and redefine ease of use on the web. The large corporations can afford to invest in Javascript clients. 

GWT

They can afford big teams with Javascript specialists and expensive test procedures. And they invest in tools.

One of these tools is the Google Web Toolkit. It was developed by Google, and was released as open source for general use. Essentially, it is a compiler that translates Java into Javascript. That may not sound very impressive – but it is! Java is the programming language that is often used for business applications, so that clients and servers fit together seamlessly.

The GWT makes it possible to programme for the browser and at the same time abstracts from browser differences. The compiler generates efficient and compact Javascript and reveals typical careless mistakes such as nonsensical type conversions or typos. Another highlight is the integration into the Eclipse development environment – including the debugger!

Developers can develop for popular browsers in their usual programming language and in the familiar development environment – productivity is vastly increased compared to conventional Javascript development. With the GWT, it’s easy to relocate logic to the browser, without falling into the complexity trap.

GWT in use at S&N

At S&N, the advantages convinced us to use the GWT for web applications. The positive experiences during development and in productive use confirm our assessment: with the GWT, the operation of a web application can be drastically improved, and it is ideally suited for use in companies.

But the GWT makes it possible not only to improve the operation of existing web applications. The GWT is the ideal framework to migrate desktop applications and bring them to the web with great ease of use – with all the advantages, such as simple deployment, centrally-controlled layout, and corporate design using CSS.

Have you always found out which of your applications you would like to bring from the desktop to the web? Then get in touch!

Contact: Christian Vögtle; Turn on Javascript!