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Backbase AJAX tool kit impresses

Jan 30, 20062 mins
Development ApproachesEnterprise Applications

* Backbase for outstanding AJAX development

The hottest area of Web applications development, without doubt, is anything to do with Rich Internet Applications (RIA) and the main paradigm for creating them: Asynchronous JavaScript and XML (AJAX).

While some of the early AJAX tool kits were arguably a little naïve and limited the latest batch are remarkable. One that has particularly impressed me is Backbase published by the company of the same name.

On the client side, Backbase consists of a 30K-byte JavaScript library, called the Backbase Presentation Client, which extends the tags of an HTML page to include Backbase’s own BXML tags or B-tags. BXML consists of more than 85 proprietary tags that provide the building blocks for really slick RIAs and includes user interface components such as panels, windows, trees, tabs and sliders.

Developers can also create and publish their own B-tags and components and the system comes with a fairly sophisticated debugger.

The demos of Backbase are – dare I use a severely over-used phrase – awesome. In the Backbase Explorer, you can review the individual UI components and their features as well as edit and test your own versions. The demos show off everything from RSS readers to client-side Web shops and client-side portal systems.

There are several versions of Backbase (see Backbase FAQ):

* The free Community Edition for non-commercial and non-institutional purposes is a client-side only system.

* The Standard Edition adds integration with server side scripting. It’s priced starting at $2,000.

* The .Net Edition provides support for Microsoft’s .Net and adds Backbase .Net Server Extension for .Net 2.0 and Backbase Visual Studio.Net 2005 plug-in with AJAX controls. It’s priced starting at $2,500.

* The Java Edition adds the Backbase JSF Server Extension and the Backbase Eclipse plug-in. It’s priced starting at $5,000.

Backbase is, without doubt, one of the best AJAX development solutions available in the market today.


Mark Gibbs is an author, journalist, and man of mystery. His writing for Network World is widely considered to be vastly underpaid. For more than 30 years, Gibbs has consulted, lectured, and authored numerous articles and books about networking, information technology, and the social and political issues surrounding them. His complete bio can be found at

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