This past week has seen an explosion of new… um… let call it web 3.0 toolkits for lack of a better term. AJAX replacements basically. In addition to Adobe and Microsoft’s early contenders (Apollo and Silverlight respectively), Sun announced JavaFX as a third contender. Sun’s announcement comes on the heels of their initial follow through to open source the Java VM with the SDK coming soon.

My understanding of these frameworks is very limited, other than Apollo is based on Flash, Silverlight on C# and JavaFX on… well… Java.

As Mark Piligrim points out, the proprietary nature of these frameworks runs counter to what makes the current web technologies successful. JavaFX had not been announced yet, so I wonder what he thinks of it given Sun’s willingness to release Java under an open source license. Of the three, it’s probably more the underdog that the tech community will try to rally around.

The one huge detriment to AJAX programming is that it is currently incredibly difficult to develop in an agile way (tests, good design techniques, etc). Hell, its incredibly hard to simply debug. Some of the more recent AJAX toolkits (like Google’s Web Toolkit and the offering from Yahoo) help this to some extent, however you still end up relying on generated Javascript, so you don’t end up much better off. It will be interesting to see how quickly these new technologies get adopted. The web has a massive amount of inertia behind its current technologies. As seen from some new standards (like SVG and HTML5), browsers are slow to adopt the full spec, and given the disparity between spec supports, even if say Firefox can adopt more quickly, the web is still made up of the lowest common denominator. Will plugins help? Possibly, but I’m not going to throw any of my eggs into any basket just yet.