GWT, Another Turning Point?

I still remember the first time I found out that I could drag the map in Google Maps to pan around the point I had searched for. The funny thing is that someone had to point out to me that you could do that. It wasn’t at all obvious to me at first and I really wondered how the hell they did that. Was it some scary voodoo magic?

Of course, now I know. It all has to do with sending requests off to the server using JavaScript and updating the HTML on the page on the fly in what we now know as AJAX. It works in pretty much any browser that supports JavaScript and it lets you create some pretty complex front ends without having to learn MFC or Swing (and, no, this isn’t a plug for people to read my page, I hate Swing for all the reasons Phillip does and won’t mention it again, much) or RCP for that matter. And, being in the embedded software industry, I think this is still a great way for embedded devices to get quick remote GUI interfaces.

So, when Mike pointed out the new Google Web Toolkit, GWT, I was intrigued. Taking a look at their pages, it was reminiscent of what Microsoft has done with Visual Studio and MFC as a toolkit for Windows and what we’re doing with QNX Momentics. Build a nice IDE and a good framework and developers will come. GWT turns out to be something similar for AJAX applications and uses Eclipse for the IDE.

The real question I have is, why is Google doing this? Sure they got a ton of money with their IPO, but surely this isn’t charity work for us interested in building web apps that don’t have anything to do with Google. But they are making a change in the industry where developers working on client software need to care more about which browser your users are going to use rather than the operating system. I think this will open the door for others to jump in and take some of the client OS share away from Microsoft. But that still leaves the question, why does Google want to do that? hmmmm….