XAJAX is one of the very interesting AJAX implementations for PHP, easy as the project’s slogan “The easiest way to develop asynchronous Ajax applications with PHP”. Few days ago there was a release 0.2.4 and a flash about a future version coming 0.5, so I contacted Jared one of the XAJAX project leads to talk about web 2.0, XAJAX and other projects he’s working on.
AJAX Magazine : Jared you are Musician, Graphics Designer, Web Developer, PHP Programmer, Software Idealist, … from where can we start ?
Wow, that was quite an introduction. Let’s see…I guess we could start with music, because that’s my main artistic passion and something I’ve studied and worked at for many years. I play Celtic and Early Music with a group in Northern California, Distant Oaks (http://www.distantoaks.com), and I’m also involved in Electronic Music composition (nothing released yet). I also run an Internet radio station with my brother called Melodious Synth Radio (http://www.melodious-synth.com) on the side, which is a lot of fun.
But as for software/graphics/Web design, that’s also something I’m very excited about. I launched my Web design business in 1997 (http://www.gaeldesign.com) and have done everything from Photoshop graphics work (and in times past 3D modeling) to PHP, Java, Python, Perl, BASIC, and Objective-C/Cocoa. Now I try to stay focused on PHP, Ajax, and Web design. I find that graphics, music, and programming are all very similar in some ways, and the idea of software as art and craft simply fascinates me. There are many artistic programmers out there who I believe are the ones responsible for the new explosion of Web 2.0 apps and services, and I look up to them for inspiration.
AJAX Magazine : What’s the web 2.0 projects that you liked ?
Well, I’m a big fan of Google’s projects, since they’re so easy to use and useful. I also like Digg and Blinklist (switched to them from del.icio.us). Probably my favorite Web 2.0 app though is Backpack by 37signals. I store my life in Backpack these days — if that service ever goes down, I’ll be heartbroken!
AJAX Magazine : What do you find interesting in Web 2.0 ?
My #1 joy in the Web 2.0 movement is the push for open standards, open content, and open source. I’m a huge believer in the need for computer technology to lean towards freedom. I certainly don’t mind proprietary software, unlike some people in the Free Software Foundation, and I don’t mind proprietary, copyrighted content. But I think that the base technology that people use needs to be as open as possible, and I think that open content such as Wikipedia and free access to content such as Amazon Web services, Google maps, etc. is essential to innovation and progress on the Internet.
AJAX Magazine : What you didn’t like ?
I don’t like the silly company names, the over-the-top hype, the venture capitalists pouring millions of dollars into boring content aggregators, the neon colors, the cool “in crowd” mentality, and all the other “trendy” and “hip” baggage that comes with the Web 2.0 scene. It’s unnecessary and possibly dangerous. I hope we don’t see a
repeat cycle of the “dot com boom” before everything tanked in 2000 and 2001.
AJAX Magazine : How did you started with XAJAX ?
I was interested in finding a good Ajax library for PHP and at the same time was interested in contributing to an existing open source project. I was very lucky in that xajax provided me an opportunity for both. I tried out xajax 0.1b4, liked it very much, and contacted J. Max Wilson (the author of the project) to see if I could help out. This was back in October 2005, so now I’ve been on the project for over six months. Time sure flies!
AJAX Magazine : and who is working on the project currently ?
Myself, BigBrownChunx (aka Eion Robb), and J. Max Wilson. I’m in the position of “lead developer” at the moment, but that’s partially due to the fact that nobody else wanted the job.
AJAX Magazine : What is already done ?
We just released xajax 0.2.4, and I’m quite pleased with the quality of the code at this point. Don’t let the version number fool you — 0.2.4 is stable and very useful for just about any PHP/Ajax project.
(strings, numbers, arrays, even object properties). In all of these cases, xajax handles all of the low-level data communication for you, while you use very simple objects to work your Ajax magic.
AJAX Magazine : It’s early to talk in details about the next XAJAX 0.5, but can we have a flash on what are you planning ? and where is the 0.3 and 0.4 by the way ?
xajax 0.5 will be a new plugin system built right into the core of xajax. This means third-parties will be able to add new commands and alternate request processing on top of xajax in a dynamic and maintainable way. We expect this to be a big plus for choosing xajax over other Ajax libraries going forward.
AJAX Magazine : You are choosing the slogan “easiest” AJAX framework. Every developer say that his framework is the easier, so what is easy in XAJAX and how you evalute it?
We define easy in two ways: easy to get results quickly and easy to change. Our goal will always be that anyone can download xajax and use it in ANY existing PHP application in a matter of minutes with a minimum of fuss and a very small learning curve. At the same time, our goal is that xajax can be understood on an in-depth code level and be easy to modify and enhance. That’s one of the motivations behind the upcoming plugin system for xajax 0.5: make it even easier to extend xajax to provide more power and flexibility in every different situation it’s used.
AJAX Magazine : What’s Willowgarden ? It’s not a concert you’re making ?
Hehe, not at all, although it did feel like an album recording project at times (in terms of effort)!
Willowgarden is a project I started even before I got involved with xajax. It is a PHP 5 application platform for building the next wave of Web apps. It’s my attempt to find a solution to the realities of rapid development and software innovation in this new Web 2.0 era. The goal isn’t to offer “just another framework” but to provide a specific set of tools and a coding philosophy that allow people to build Web apps in as fast, maintainable, and extensible a manner as possible while taking full advantage of PHP 5. I see Willowgarden as following different path as some other projects such as Zend Framework, but the beauty of open source is that you can build your Web app using Willowgarden and parts of Zend Framework, PEAR, and other libraries and projects — all at the same time! For instance, xajax plays a big role in Willowgarden already, as well a few PEAR classes.
A Developer Preview 1 release is now available, and I encourage your readers to give it a try and let me and the Willowgarden community know what they think. The project is just getting started publicly, and much work remains to make Willowgarden all that I hope it can be, so this is a great time to get involved. Visit the Web site at: http://www.willowgarden.org
AJAX Magazine : Any other future projects ?
Perhaps, but nothing I can divulge any details of just yet. Right now, the upcoming release of xajax 0.5 is a big focus, and I’m very excited to see Willowgarden get off the ground as well. There are only so many hours in a day, after all!
Thanks Hatem for the interview, and I wish you and your readers all the best. Love live Ajax (and PHP)!