Free Tools to Develop AJAX Applications

26 06 2007

AJAX is new technology. There aren’t very many tools supporting it compared to Java or .NET. This doesn’t mean there aren’t any good tools to develop AJAX applications however. Here are a few of my favorites which have helped me out:

Development – Eclipse + Aptana

Eclipse is the most powerful and extensible IDE I’ve ever used. It supports multiple programming languages, refactoring tools, and the works. Aptana is a plugin for Eclipse which lets you write Javascript code as well as design web-pages from within the IDE with full syntax highlighting and script debugging. Aptana also supports Adobe AIR and Ruby on Rails two new technologies that will make developing web-applications even more powerful. Putting two and two together, it leaves Dreamweaver, which is mostly a design tool, in the dust.

Eclipse can be downloaded from http://www.eclipse.org. Drop the archive anywhere on your system and run it. If you are an Ubuntu user, Eclipse is in the universe for your pleasure.

Aptana can be installed from within Eclipse if you add http://update.aptana.com/install/3.2/ as a remote site. Restart Eclipse and you are good to go.

Basic Testing – Firebug Extension for Firefox

We developers know that debugging can be the most tedious part of the programming experience. Eclipse and Aptana cover debugging the Javascript, but what about the communication between the client and the server? All AJAX applications are n-tiered and Firebug makes monitoring data between the model-view-controller a breeze. You will have to test your application in a web-browser regardless, so having Firebug installed is a bonus. You can also manipulate scripts on the fly, so if you want to make a quick CSS change to see how it affects your page thats already live, go right ahead.

Production Testing – Apache Jakarta JMeter

How do you test if your shiny new application can hold up against thousands of simultaneous users at once? JMeter is a profiling tool from Apache that lets you setup cases to stress test your application. It even provides important data like how long it took to serve a page with 50 simultaneous users, so you can fine tune your app for speed.

Deployment – FireFTP Extension for Firefox

AJAX applications live inside an HTTP server. FTPing your website is easy with FireFTP. It features a two-pane view so you can transfer your website over quick.

As AJAX becomes more popular better tools will be developed making the software process a little bit easier. The above tools mentioned are very robust so put your thinking hats on and start developing applications for the Web 2.0 generation.


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3 responses

5 07 2007
Vivin

Haha… I was something similar to AJAX as far back as 2001. Although that involved submitting to a hidden IFRAME, and using dynamically generated Javascript to manipulate the parent page’s DOM.

Now I use XMLHttpRequest. I would have used it before, but I was still using the IFRAME methodology. I wanted to make my site XHTML 1.1 valid, so I decided to use this. Best thing ever!

5 07 2007
Vivin

Firebug is indispensable for the web developer.

I also use something called Web Developer, which is also quite amazing and helpful.

9 07 2007
syalam

Vivin – do you have any suggestions for writing/debugging cross platform AJAX apps? Its a pain to have to write for IE and Mozilla…

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