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ASP.NET Ajax components: Vendor roundtable -- Part 3

ASP.NET Ajax component makers discuss the roles of AJAX and open-source software in a virtual roundtable.

With the Ajax tool market flourishing, enlisted the help of thought leaders in the ecosystem of Microsoft-related Ajax component providers to participate in a virtual roundtable discussing key trends in this space as Ajax moves from cool to commonplace. Here we present the third installment, focusing on the fate of the open-source community over the next few years.

Participating in this third installment are: Joost Luback, technical evangelist, Dundas Data Visualization Inc., Toronto; Ivo Nedkov, unit manager of the ASP.NET division at Telerik, Sofia Bulgaria (Newton, MA); Anthony Lombardo, lead evangelist and Microsoft MVP, Infragistics Inc., Princeton, NJ. Right now the AJAX tool market is flourishing. There are a lot of firms doing a lot of different things, and the open-source community is playing a huge role as well. Do you think this sort of environment will continue to exist, or do you see the market undergoing any changes over the next couple years?

Joost Luback: I believe that the technical nature of AJAX naturally leads to an open-source community. Note that as opposed to compiled applications, every end user can actually see and analyze the JavaScript source code – though techniques exist to obfuscate the source code and therefore re-use or rewrite it. Enforcing strict copyrights on such source code or frameworks is therefore very difficult. Currently, a popular licensing model allows users of JavaScript-based libraries to modify the code or even resell it as part of other products, but disallows them from reselling it as their own library.

Rather than copyrighting library frameworks, companies are focusing more on knowledge (consulting) and applied products (for instance, specific web applications) and offering free copies of their frameworks. I don't see this as a bad tendency. As developers seem to be eager to help out in open-source communities, with proper moderation it seems that this is a perfect way for good standards to be set – something the AJAX community definitely needs.

Ivo Nedkov: From our experience we can say that this environment will continue to exist at least for several years to come. The ASP.NET AJAX community [the AJAX community in general] is growing every day and there are a lot of people building great applications. A lot of developers are investing in AJAX projects and this will continue to be the main trend in web development.

Anthony Lombardo: There are really great ideas generally in the open source community. We're seeing great activity but there are some troubles and concerns. Typically when you're dealing with projects in the open source community there's a question of maintainability, and who will be responsible for fixing something.

There's still great value in purchasing a component from a vendor … and the contract you're buying into. We have to honor our contract. But I think it's a healthy relationship [between open source and commercial], and I am encouraged by both sides of this. I don't necessarily see one side taking over. I think the open source community is like a great playground, where you build creatively, but there's always a need for an off-the-shelf product you can buy and start using and not worry about because someone is taking care of it.

In Part 1 of our series, participants discussed their top challenges in working with Ajax, their perspective on Microsoft's contribution, and common mistakes that users make in dealing with Ajax.

In Part 2 of our series, participants discussed JavaScript's recent revival among Ajax developers, the varying opinions on whether Ajax should be based on XML or not, and how long they think Ajax ultimately will last.

For Additional Information: View the Ajax Learning Guide

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