The Google Web Toolkit (GWT) session today was very interesting. Without personal experience using it I am not going to comment on it too much, but there were some interesting things that came out of the session.
Firstly, the GWT guys outlined the fundamentals behind their approach. It was interesting to see that their focus is on the end user experience, and for them that means speed and reliability. They are happy that they don’t have the most ‘gee whiz’ widgets if in any way they are not fast and cross browser compatible. To a certain extent, their compromise is to the ‘lowest common denominator’ however with the work they are putting in I am not sure that there are too many compromises. They are also big fans of static compilation. Not just because they like it, but because it allows them to better optimise the code produced. For them the optimisation allows even smaller downloads and faster execution.
Another interesting point was their focus on testing. There is now a tool that allows the code to be deployed out to a number of machines and browsers to test performance.
They also talked up the changes in the last year, particularly in performance. Like the image compression above, they have done several other changes to create even more efficient code. They claimed performance improvements of between 30% and 80% over the same code of the year prior. Best part is that no changes were required in the application code, it was all achieved through better compilation techniques. Just get the latest version, re-compile and you are done! They think there is still ‘lots more low hanging fruit’, so it will be interesting to see how much faster it can be.
In their own words, they believe GWT is software engineering for AJAX. In the Java space it certainly seems like a compelling story and one well worth further investigation.