JavaScript conquers the server

Node.js, Jaxer, EJScript, RingoJS, and AppengineJS combine the familiarity of JavaScript, low overhead, blazing speed, and unique twists

By Peter Wayner, InfoWorld |  Software, java, JavaScript

Writing a server-side script for Jaxer is just like writing one for a Web page. The difference is that you sneak the attribute runat='server' into the script tag. That's it. Everything else is akin to building a JavaScript-enabled Web page. Whenever you call a function with the special runat attribute, it will be executed on the server, not in the browser. Jaxer handles the chores of bundling the parameters into an AJAX call. One little attribute controls where the code runs, and Jaxer handles all of the message passing and invocations.

The freedom can be a bit unnerving for old hands at JavaScript programming who've spent years thinking they were programming only the client. Now you can write to the database or access distant files by merely inserting the runat attribute.

I found it pretty easy to build Web pages using the technique. Anyone who is new to AJAX will discover it's much more convenient to let Jaxer handle all of the background work of bundling and unbundling the data. It's all mostly automatic and even simpler to use than some of the AJAX libraries such as jQuery.

It's not clear how much support Jaxer is enjoying these days. The server used to be bundled with Aptana's other offerings, but now it's left alone in a corner. My guess is that many people don't need that much help handling AJAX calls now that libraries like jQuery simplify the process.

The ideal job for Jaxer will be one where most of the work is done on the client but some crucial part must run on the server. It's very easy to make code run on the server, but it's not so easy to write complex server-side code. There are plenty of jobs like this, and the people coding these jobs are the ones that Aptana is targeting when it says you can write an entire Web application in one file.

JavaScript servers: EJScript Although the idea of using JavaScript on the server sounds simple, there are a surprisingly diverse number of ways to approach it. EJScript is quite different from both Jaxer and Node.js but very similar in structure to classic server designs like Ruby on Rails and Struts. It's built using the pure Model-View-Controller paradigm, so it will be quite familiar to anyone who's created websites using the popular Ruby or Java frameworks.


Originally published on InfoWorld |  Click here to read the original story.
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