Google Web Toolkit

I know I’m praising Google maybe a bit too much lately, but when Peter tipped me about the GWT I almost started to worship them! 😉 The GWT is actually a dream come true for me. Trying to write a dynamic web application these days is really a pain in the ***. If your background is from a world in which all programming languages are nicely typed and have nice informative compilers, nice IDE’s, nice debuggers, etc then it’s really a chock to start web development. It’s like being in the stone age again. I don’t want to offend anyone, but I hope, somewhere, you can agree that web languages are in general less mature than for example C++/Java.

Now, what did Google actually do? It seems they kind of shared my opinion. They thought, instead of starting another framework in some web language, why not offer an SDK for an established, proven development platform, which can be cross-compiled to nowadays web technology, taking care of all the nasty little details like cross browser compatibility and fumbling around in javascripts.

They chose Java as the source language. I don’t say it had to be Java, but I happen to be a Java developer in my day job, so this makes it extra interesting for me. 🙂 I can use my favorite IDE and actually start debugging an AJAX app, refactor some code, design a gui! Debugging is also nicely cross platform. Google calls it

hosted mode, where your code runs as Java in the Java Virtual Machine without compiling to JavaScript. To accomplish this, the GWT browser embeds a special browser control (an Internet Explorer control on Windows or a Gecko/Mozilla control on Linux) with hooks into the JVM.

Last but not least, you are not really stuck to the auto-generated code. Normally, the generated code suffices, but as it’s in a beta phase, and there will probably always be some case in which you want to do some manual tweaking, GWT provides the JavaScript Native Interface (JSNI, nice pun! ;))
It seems they have everything nicely documented and there’s even a weblog so we can be nicely kept up to date about any news/progress. 🙂

Conclusion: way to go google! 🙂