Open SourceNews Brief: Google Revs Web Development With GWT 2.0

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Web-based applications are at the core of Google’s strategy. As a result, it’s not surprising that Google has been embarking on a strategy to help both itself and the wider developer community build better Web applications.

Key to Google’s Web application development effort is its Google Web Tools (GWT) applications, which became open source in 2006. This week, Google debuted GWT 2.0, which provides new developer workflow improvements as well performance enhancements.

GWT enable developers to write an AJAX application in Java and then cross-compile the application into highly optimized JavaScript that runs across all Web browsers.

“Developers are impatient because their users are impatient,” Dave Glazer, Google’s director of engineering, said during the Campfire One developer event this week. “We all—when using and building software—just want to get things done. The theme of GWT 2 is building faster apps and running them faster.”

Glazer noted that Google itself used GWT to build Google Wave as well as the newly rebuilt Google AdWords advertiser interface.

Andrew Bowers, GWT Product Manager at Google, explained that in GWT 2.0, Google has added a new declarative user interface called UI binder.

The addition allows for developers to write the user interface as an XML template, drop in widgets, and then associate or bind those widgets to a Java class where the app logic sits. What that achieves is a separation of the presentation and the application logic for quicker developer iterations.

Another key improvement in GWT 2.0 is the ability to do code-splitting and incremental downloading of applications. Application load and start-up time can often be an issue with modern Web applications. One potential solution is to split the code up so that only the code required for boot is initially loaded, with the rest loading incrementally as needed.

From a performance testing and optimization perspective, the GWT 2.0 release is being accompanied with a new performance profiling tool called Speed Tracer.

With Speed Tracer, developers will be able to measure the sluggishness of a given Web application in terms of how the user interface renders in the browser. The tool also shows data for network performance to correlate behavior between network resources and events in the browser.

Google has released Web application profiling technology before with its PageSpeed add-on for the Firefox Web browser.

The key difference with Speed Tracer is that it is an extension built specifically for Google’s Chrome browser. Google just moved Extensions for Chrome into beta release this week.

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