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JackBe nimble with AJAX and business

Apr 12, 20063 mins
Development ApproachesEnterprise Applications

* AJAX that understands the goals of enterprise customers

The explosion of interest and tools in the Asynchronous JavaScript + XML, or AJAX, market has been remarkable and resulted in an unusual situation: In the phase where the AJAX market is still taking baby steps the tools that enable AJAX development have gone from premium pricing to commodity pricing in a single year.

An example of a contender in the AJAX market that has recognized that the value to enterprises lies in offering more than a tool kit is JackBe with its NQ Suite.

First, let’s look at its technology: JackBe provides a complete suite for developing AJAX applications and as the company’s architecture diagrams show, JackBe is a bridge between the client-side and the server-side presentation logic (why don’t more companies take the time to draw useful architectural diagrams as JackBe has – well done chaps!).

The client side requires JackBe Core Services, JavaScript libraries that provide rendering services to optimize display performance and communications services, data validation services and internationalization and localization support. JackBe describes the core services as: “More than just a wrapper around XMLHttpRequest, JackBe’s Communication Services support queuing, iFRAME based messaging and other value-added optimizations.”

On top of the client-side Core Service sit two service modules, and the JackBe Markup Language (JBML).

JBML provides “XML-based, declarative GUI programming” that is created using the JackBe Visual GUI Builder and Integrated Development Environment (IDE) under MSIE in which JackBe applications are created. JackBe-created applications talk either to the JBML subsystem or the JackBe API. The API allows you to program events such as widget instantiation, data population, and property manipulation as well as server communications requests, data validation, and DOM query and manipulation.

On top of the JBML and API layers sit the JackBe Widgets. The Basic Widget library provides the usual components such as buttons, labels, forms, text fields, radio buttons, check boxes, option menus, navigation controls and page layout, while the Advanced Widgets include searchable data tables, calendar controls, drag and drop support, charts and graphs, sliders and spreadsheets.

The final layer in JackBe’s architecture is the AJAX application.

JackBe offers a couple of guided demos and you can check out what its customers have used the system for.

Now the other part of the equation: What JackBe offers above and beyond a toolkit. As the company points out, there are more than 70 major players in the AJAX development market and many of the tools are open source and free. This means that the tools alone are of minimal value but if businesses intend that AJAX-based business applications are going be cost-effective then they need much more than tools.

As a result, JackBe offers a complete solution-oriented service that is based on definable client business projects that combine JackBe’s tool kit with consulting and performance goals.

This is one of the more sophisticated approaches to the AJAX market and is much more in line with enterprise goals than the adoption of a tool kit because JackBe recognizes that what is needed isn’t just technology but return on development.


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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