[OpenAjaxIDE] Bootstrapping

Jon Ferraiolo jferrai at us.ibm.com
Wed Oct 24 05:09:35 PDT 2007

Hi Bertrand and Rich,
I came up with the idea of having separate files as a result of doing some
homework on the widgets side, particularly with jMaki. I don't know if you
have had a chance to look into jMaki much, but it is a very interesting set
of technology (and recently a version 1.0 commercial product) that
addresses many of the problems facing the IDE WG (primarily on the widget
side). When you use jMaki with an IDE such as Netbeans (remember, this is
the IDE WG), the widgets found within various Ajax toolkits (e.g., Dojo,
Yahoo, Spry) appear in a palette, with inspector dialogs that allow for
per-instance customization of widgets that you use in your web application.
This illustrates the #1 special thing about jMaki from the perspective of
the IDE WG: they have already solved the problem of how to integrate the
widgets found in multiple Ajax toolkits into a developer tool.

I looked at the way that jMaki bootstraps itself and where it stores its
files. In general, there are 3 distinct areas on the developer's hard disk:

1) A directory holding all of the (modified) source code for the Ajax
toolkits that jMaki works with. For example, dojo is at
2) A directory holding all of jMaki's wrapper files that hold the
standardized metadata that allows jMaki to work with different widget
system. For example, the dojo wrappers are at
 In particular, each widget has its own widget.json file.
3) The application area holding application-specific metadata, where two
key files are <approotfolder>/web/shared/resources/config.json (which
includes application-specific metadata such as overall CSS files, the jMaki
version# and API keys such as for Google Maps)  and glue.js (which defines
listeners to jMaki's pub/sub system).

What I see in jMaki is that there the key metadata is spread around at
least 3 different file types, widget.json, config.json, and glue.js (which
is procedural, but could have been declarative), each tailored to a
particular purpose. If you look at the contents of those files, it looks
like Greg and the jMaki team (who have been working at this a long time)
made good decisions. Each of the files are simple and highly
understandable. Therefore, I concluded it made sense to have multiple based
on watching how the jMaki team designed their framework.

As far as I could tell, jMaki does not have a central manifest that
indicates where all of the widgets are. Instead, it seems to find the
widgets by searching through a series of directories (I believe ANT is
utiltized for this purpose under the hood). This also made sense to me
because new libraries can be added without having to locate and update a
central manifest.

jMaki doesn't provide metadata for JavaScript APIs. When looking at the
Aptana XML format and comparing that to the widget metadata proposal from
Adobe and the JSON files that are used by jMaki, the only overlap is in the
area of {name, type, defaultvalue}, which is common between widget
parameters and JavaScript method parameters and properties. Everything else
is much different. Therefore, I concluded that it made sense to have
different XML grammars for the widget metadata and the JavaScript API
metadata, but share the same syntax for {name,type,defaultvalue}.

I hope Greg Murray comes to the phone call on Thursday so he can correct my
assumptions and explain the rationale that led them to architecting jMaki
the way that they did.


PS - I hope I didn't sell jMaki short. Not only has it solved the problem
of how to integrate multiple widget sets into an IDE, they also have
addressed the multiple IDE problem (e.g., jMaki also works with Eclipse)
and server-side framework integration (e.g., jMaki works with JSF, JSP and
PHP, and I forget, but I'm pretty sure there is some support for Rails).

             BM at IBMUS                                                   To 
             Sent by:                  "ide at openajax.org"                  
             ide-bounces at opena         <ide at openajax.org>                  
             jax.org                                                    cc 
             10/23/2007 01:53          Re: [OpenAjaxIDE] Bootstrapping     

I too would prefer to not start by doing separations where we do not have
well developed reasons for the distinctions. It is likely some such
distinctions will arise as we move forward and that seems like the
appropriate time to separate the information.

I also wonder about an approach that seems to be focused on a downloaded
directory structure. In particular I'm concerned about how it maps to a web
widget model. What about more of a URI approach where "discovering" the
widget/component/library means one has been handed a defined set of
metadata. This could be by ingesting the response from a URI or by reading
a file. If it makes sense to partition the metadata, this top level set can
point to other metadata (and thereby also support deferred loading of
unused information ...).

Rich Thompson

 From:       Bertrand Le Roy <Bertrand.Le.Roy at microsoft.com>               
 To:         Jon Ferraiolo/Menlo Park/IBM at IBMUS                            
 Cc:         "ide at openajax.org" <ide at openajax.org>                         
 Date:       10/23/2007 04:35 PM                                           
 Subject:    Re: [OpenAjaxIDE] Bootstrapping                               

Well, it’s also still not clear to me why we need different formats for
lib, api and widgets. What’s the difference between lib and api?

From: Jon Ferraiolo [mailto:jferrai at us.ibm.com]
Sent: Tuesday, October 23, 2007 1:27 PM
To: Bertrand Le Roy
Cc: ide at openajax.org
Subject: RE: [OpenAjaxIDE] Bootstrapping

Does your response mean that everything else in my email is good? I assume
that the answer is no, and that your response represents only the subset of
things you could think of at the moment. In any case, it would be good if
you and others could respond with what parts sounded good and which ones


Inactive hide details for Bertrand Le Roy <Bertrand.Le.Roy at microsoft.com>
Bertrand Le Roy <Bertrand.Le.Roy at microsoft.com>

 Bertrand Le Roy                                                           
 <Bertrand.Le.Roy at microsoft.                                               
 10/23/2007 01:18 PM                                                       
                                      Jon Ferraiolo/Menlo Park/IBM at IBMUS,  
                                      "ide at openajax.org"                   
                                      <ide at openajax.org>                   
                                      RE: [OpenAjaxIDE] Bootstrapping      

A few points:
· I’m a little uneasy about having the name OpenAjax (or even something
generic such as metadata) as the file name because if the file gets
separated from the library or gets out of the folder, you can’t guess
what’s in there without opening it. I’d prefer a convention that is a
variation of the library’s file name. i.e. prototype.js ->
· We shouldn’t force people to put different libraries in different folders
if they don’t want to.
· The file should be discoverable from the directory where the file sits as
well as from some central directory on the file system that’s determined by
the IDE itself. This enables web authors to not have the metadata file
pollute the web site if they don’t want it there.

From: ide-bounces at openajax.org [mailto:ide-bounces at openajax.org] On Behalf
Of Jon Ferraiolo
Sent: Tuesday, October 23, 2007 12:52 PM
To: ide at openajax.org
Subject: [OpenAjaxIDE] Bootstrapping

(I'm only sending this to ide at openajax.org because this is mostly centered
on IDE workflows, not mashup workflows, although this proposal does attempt
to address some of the expected requirements from the Gadgets TF)

We have looked at various grammars (XML, JSON and JSDoc) for representing
library metadata (APIs and widgets). At our last phone call, there was a
sense that we would be able to take the best features from each of the
proposals such that we could define a unified XML grammar that might
address all of our requirements. This is all good.

My question today is how does it all get bootstrapped (i.e., discovered,
loaded, initialized)? Let's assume we have an IDE and two Ajax libaries,
"A" and "B". How does the IDE discover A and B, make them available to the
IDE, and how does it find (or possibly auto-generate) the XML metadata
files that describe the APIs and widgets?

Here is one approach that might work:

1) An Ajax library is assumed to have a root folder, and everything needed
by the library descends from that root folder. It is assumed that the IDE
"discovers" a given library either because the library ships with the IDE
or the library can be imported into the IDE somehow (post-installation),
and the key thing that the IDE needs to know is the name of the root folder
for the library.

2) To bootstrap library metadata, a file named OpenAjaxLib.xml file SHOULD
exist in the root folder. This file provides overall metadata about the
library (e.g., version#). But note the word "SHOULD". It is OK if
OpenAjaxLib.xml is separate from the library, in which case the IDE will
need to collect the metadata some other way, such as prompt the user
provide the location of the OpenAjaxLib.xml file.

3) API metadata and widget metadata can be scattered around the directory
structure. Assume that the IDE will recursively search through directories
to find those files. No need for a master manifest file, which is difficult
to keep up to date. We simply have to come up with a standard filename for
the metadata files, such as OpenAjaxAPI.xml and OpenAjaxWidget.xml. (Note:
we might provide an optimization feature in OpenAjaxLib.xml where explicit
search paths could be defined and the toolkit developer can choose
different names than OpenAjaxAPI.xml and OpenAjaxWidget.xml)

4) We make sure that OpenAjaxAPI.xml can be generated dynamically by the
IDE through a just-in-time transformation (e.g., transforming MS's inline
XML annotations into OpenAjaxAPI.xml or transforming JSDoc inline
annotations into OpenAjaxAPI.xml)

5) We attempt to define the format for OpenAjaxWidget.xml such that:
a) it can be used to serve all common definitions for "widget" (WUI=UI
controls, WMASH=Mashup widgets, WDASH=Installable desktop gadgets such as
b) we make sure there are lossless transformations to/from selected
existing WMASH and WDASH widgets formats (e.g., Apple Dashboard, Google
Universal Gadgets)

6) Allow OpenAjaxWidget.xml to include API definitions that apply to the
given widget. Therefore, inside of OpenAjaxWidget.xml there might be tags
from OpenAjaxAPI.xml.

Relationship to the proposals from Adobe, Aptana, and MS, plus also jMaki:

a) OpenAjaxWidget.xml should be largely analogous to jMaki's widget.json
file, but needs to (roughly) support the union of features from Adobe's
proposals and IBM's proposal to the Gadget's TF, plus offer an
extensibility approach such that a rich UI system like dijit could embrace
this format down the road. (Not saying that dijit should do this, but the
format should allow this as a future possibility.)

b) OpenAjaxAPI.xml should be extensible in a manner that address's MS needs
for supporting other languages. (As we discussed at the last phone call.)

c) Under the extensibility veneer per (b), the description of JavaScript
APIs probably should look a lot like Aptana's markup language

Bottom line, my thinking today is that we need 3 different formats,
OpenAjaxLib.xml, OpenAjaxAPI.xml and OpenAjaxWidget.xml.

IDE mailing list
IDE at openajax.org
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