[OpenAjaxIDE] IDE Issue 1: Toolkit identification, configuration, loading, and initialization

Jon Ferraiolo jferrai at us.ibm.com
Thu Dec 6 10:44:00 PST 2007

Just an observation.

During the extra-time period of our phone call today, it struck me that
there are two potentially orthogonal uses for <assetfile>:

(1) Identify the files that require markup insertion (e.g., SCRIPT and LINK
for css) into the HEAD area of the document
(2) Identify the files that must be deployed onto the Web site

Many files belong to both categories (1) and (2), but some files might be
referenced indirectly and therefore would fall into category (2) but not
category (1). Maybe we need separate XML tags for the two uses.


             Park/IBM at IBMUS                                             To 
             Sent by:                  ide at openajax.org                    
             ide-bounces at opena                                          cc 
                                       [OpenAjaxIDE] IDE Issue 1: Toolkit  
             12/05/2007 02:54          identification, configuration,      
             PM                        loading, and initialization         

URL: http://www.openajax.org/member/wiki/IDE_Issue_1

IDE Issue 1: Toolkit identification, configuration, loading, and

Original write-up

Most of the widgets that we are looking to use with IDEs are built on top
of an Ajax toolkit. For example, in 3 early samples, we looked into the
date picker widget (built on Dojo), a menu widget (built on YUI), and a
Google Map widget (built on Google-developed JavaScript). In most cases,
one or more Ajax libraries need to be sourced into the HTML application via
a <script> tag and (in some cases) some sort of library configuration and
initialization must occur for the widget to work properly when deployed
with the HTML page.

The question is what information will we include within our IDE standards
around toolkit identification, configuration, loading and initialization.
On one extreme, we could decide to steer clear of defining any standards in
this area and decide that the various IDEs must take care of this somehow
or other. On the other extreme, we could decide to define an industry
standard for how widgets identifier the Ajax libraries that they need and
how those libraries are configured, loaded and initialized.

Existing industry practice

jMaki's widget.json file includes a config property that provides
information about toolkits and how they should be initialized. Here is a
snippet from the information within jMaki for the Dojo date picker widget:

    'config' : {
         'type' :
          { 'id' : 'dojo',
            'libs' : [
              'preload' : 'if (typeof djConfig ==\'undefined\') djConfig =
{ parseWidgets: false, searchIds: [] };',
              'resources' : [

The jMaki engineers need to explain this in more detail, but a good guess
is that libs: points to the root JavaScript file to load for Dojo, preload:
provides configuration settings that are used once the Dojo file is loaded
via a dynamic <script> tag, and resources: is the root folder for finding
other resources needed by Dojo.

Adobe Dreamweaver proposes an <assetfile type="javascript"
location="<url>"> tag to identify JavaScript files that need to be loaded.

Complexities that we might want (or not) to address

Here are some sub-issues about various complexities that we might want to
            Shared use of Ajax libraries - If two widgets use the same Ajax
            library, we might want to (or in fact need to) ensure that the
            Ajax library is loaded only once and that the two widgets share
            the same instance of the given library. This begs the following
                        What happens if widgets use different variations of
                        the same Ajax library? - Suppose one widget
                        requires jQuery 1.5 and another one jQuery 2.3 and
                        there is a major incompatibility between jQuery 1.x
                        and 2.x. Suppose one widget ships with a custom
                        version of Dojo 1.0 that only supports the features
                        needed by that widget and another widget uses a
                        different custom version of Dojo. (Most likely we
                        will have to have some reasonable behavior rules on
                        Ajax toolkits, such as what we see in the
                        introduction chapter to the OpenAjax Hub 1.0
            Dynamic loading standards for Ajax libraries - There have been
            at least two recent proposals to OpenAjax Alliance about having
            us define a standard JavaScript loader. OpenAjax Alliance
            hasn't taken a run at that issue yet.


It seems like an IDE loses much of its value as a visual UI tool if it
cannot automatically insert <script> tags for the necessary Ajax libraries
automatically into the Web page on behalf of the user. (Same argument for
other resources such as <link> tags pointing to CSS files.) For a
reasonable user experience, one would hope that a user does not need to do
any more than:
            Identify an Ajax library that they want to use with their
            application, and thereby have the IDE make all of the widgets
            from that library available to the user
            Import specific widgets from that library into the HTML
            document, such as via drag-and-drop
            Customize those widgets, such as with a property inspector
Therefore, due to a strong user requirement, we are strongly inclined to
provide some automation in the area of automatic loading of Ajax libraries
from within the IDE.

Many common Ajax libraries have an architecture that would allow some level
of automation in this area. It is common that a library has a base set of
JavaScript such that it is possible to:
            first load the base set of JavaScript for a given library
            then load the specific JavaScript for each widget used on the
            Web page
(Note: some Ajax libraries have packaging features, such as dojo.require,
that allow consolidation of JavaScript into a single file.)

Both jMaki and Dreamweaver have had some degrees of successful with popular
Ajax libraries in this area.

Given the strong benefit to the user and the fact that many Ajax libraries
have a reasonably desirable architecture in this area, it seems like we
should pursue standardization.

Alternative approaches

Strawman widget metadata

The strawman proposal simply identifies a library by name and version.


jMaki widget metadata

jMaki identifies the library by name and points to the JavaScript files.
jMaki also includes configuration information (i.e., djConfig).

    'config' : {
         'type' :
          { 'id' : 'dojo',
            'libs' : [
              'preload' : 'if (typeof djConfig ==\'undefined\') djConfig =
{ parseWidgets: false, searchIds: [] };',
              'resources' : [

Adobe Dreamweaver metadata

Adobe proposes an <assetfile location="..." referenceType="javascript"/>
tag to identify the JavaScript that needs to be loaded"

   <!--  the following asset files will get copied to the users's site when
they save their document and the paths will be adjust to point to them -->

   <!-- Specifing referenceType (link, import, or javascript) will create a
reference to the associated asset file in the <head> -->
   <!-- not specifying a referencetype copies the file but adds no
reference to it -->
   <assetfile location="yui/2.3.1/build/menu/assets/skins/sam/menu.css"
   <assetfile location="yui/2.3.1/build/fonts/fonts-min.css"
destination="yui/build/fonts/fonts-min.css" referenceType="link"/>
   <assetfile location="yui/2.3.1/build/yahoo-dom-event/yahoo-dom-event.js"
   <assetfile location="yui/2.3.1/build/container/container_core-min.js"
   <assetfile location="yui/2.3.1/build/menu/menu-min.js"
   <assetfile location="yui/2.3.1/build/menu/map.gif" />

Jon's proposed resolution

Specific recommendations:
            Only focus on workflows where there is only a single version of
            a given Ajax library used within a particular HTML page. For
            example, our primary target workflow would be situations where
            the entire page uses a single version of a particular library
            (e.g., Dojo 3.1 or YUI 1.9), but don't attempt to define
            metadata markup that address the ability to mix Dojo 0.4
            widgets with Dojo 1.0 widgets. Assume that if a user needs a
            new widget from a newer version of a given library (e.g., Dojo
            1.0's grid widget), then the user has to upgrade the entire
            page to the newer version of the library.
                        NOTE: By saying only focus, that just means where
                        we focus. It doesn't necessarily mean that we don't
                        allow other workflows.
            Choose a markup approach similar to Adobe's <assetfile> that
            lists various widget-specific files (including the library's
            core JavaScript) that need to be loaded within the <head> of
            the HTML page. The idea is that, in general, each <assetfile>
            would result in the addition of a single line of code to the
            HTML page, such as a <script> tag or <link> tag.
                        NOTE: This simple approach neither requires that
                        Ajax libraries and IDEs support this metadata nor
                        restricts Ajax libraries and IDEs from supporting
                        other similar mechanisms. If this simple approach
                        is not sufficient for particular requirements, Ajax
                        libraries and IDEs are fully free to invent their
                        own mechanisms.
                        NOTE: If multiple widgets point to the same asset
                        files, assume the IDEs will be smart enough to only
                        load the given assets once.
                        NOTE: We might consider a feature where
                        OpenAjaxLibrary.xml also supports something similar
                        to <assetfile> for any files that must be loaded in
                        order for any of the widgets to work.
                        NOTE: We need to think through how this might
                        relate to a possible future OpenAjax standard
                        around centralized JavaScript loading.
            Define XML metadata markup that provides similar hooks to
            jMaki's libs, preload, and resources, which means markup that
            identifies the location of the JavaScript files to load for a
            given library, any JavaScript to execute before loading that
            library, and the location of the root directory for that
                        NOTE: Regarding resources, perhaps that belongs in
                        OpenAjaxLibrary.xml instead.
                        NOTE: Regarding preload, maybe we need a
                        library-level preload instruction within
                        OpenAjaxLibrary.xml along with widget-level preload
                        instructions within the widget metadata.
Here is some markup that would address the bullets listed above:

Within OpenAjaxLibrary.xml:

<library xmlns="http://ns.openajax.org/library"
 baseDirectory="...relative URL to root folder for library..."
   <assetfile type="javascript|css|..." location="<url>"/> <!-- from Adobe
   <!-- etc -->
 <preload> <!-- from jMaki -->
   ...javascript logic...

Within OpenAjaxWidget.xml:

<widget xmlns="http://ns.openajax.org/widget" ...>
  <assetfile type="javascript|css|..." location="<url>"/> <!-- from Adobe
   <!-- etc -->
 <preload> <!-- from jMaki -->
   ...javascript logic...
IDE mailing list
IDE at openajax.org

-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: http://openajax.org/pipermail/ide/attachments/20071206/a5f23ae1/attachment-0001.html 
-------------- next part --------------
A non-text attachment was scrubbed...
Name: graycol.gif
Type: image/gif
Size: 105 bytes
Desc: not available
Url : http://openajax.org/pipermail/ide/attachments/20071206/a5f23ae1/attachment-0003.gif 
-------------- next part --------------
A non-text attachment was scrubbed...
Name: pic29913.gif
Type: image/gif
Size: 1255 bytes
Desc: not available
Url : http://openajax.org/pipermail/ide/attachments/20071206/a5f23ae1/attachment-0004.gif 
-------------- next part --------------
A non-text attachment was scrubbed...
Name: ecblank.gif
Type: image/gif
Size: 45 bytes
Desc: not available
Url : http://openajax.org/pipermail/ide/attachments/20071206/a5f23ae1/attachment-0005.gif 

More information about the IDE mailing list