Echo version 2.0 was designed with the goal of being a solid web platform built from the ground up around an AJAX infrastructure. With that foundation in place, 2.1 is all about performance and eye-candy. Now in beta, this release provides dramatic speed improvements for Internet Explorer browsers, bringing Echo2-on-IE application performance to near parity with Firefox and Opera. The new "Extras" library adds an array of high-performance AJAX components including a tabbed pane, an "accordion" pane, transition effects, a hue/saturation/value color chooser, and pull-down menus, with more to come.

With this beta release we finally have a purpose-built demonstration app to show off what this framework is actually capable of doing (previous applications were either test rigs or tutorial-oriented examples). The application may be visited on-line here:

http://demo.nextapp.com/Demo/app

EchoStudio2 has also entered its 2.1-beta phase. The currently available EchoStudio2 beta features point-and-click selection of components from the Form Editor preview, and provides positive indication of the selected component. The property editor view has been overhauled to provide a cleaner, more usable interface with properties divided into categories. Significant performance improvements have been added to this product as well.

About Echo2

Echo2 is the next-generation of the Echo Web Framework, a platform for developing web-based applications that approach the capabilities of rich clients. The 2.x series holds true to the core concepts of Echo while providing dramatic performance, capability, and user-experience enhancements made possible by a new AJAX-based rendering engine.

Specific features include:
* Applications are developed in server-side Java using a component-oriented and event-driven API that works like a user interface toolkit.
* All development work is performed using the Java API. No JavaScript, HTML, XML, or AJAX-related development work is required of the end-developer.
* Rendering is accomplished entirely via AJAX, using a single HTML document. Server-based updates are rendered in the smallest form possible, only updating portions of the HTML document that have changed. No external plugins such as Flash or Java are required on the client.
* Applications can display true modal dialogs, where the application will disallow input outside of the modal area.
* Server push technology enables an application to control client browsers outside of the traditional web request/response cycle.
* An extensible component development API allows the creation of reusable AJAX components.
* Support is provided for modern web browsers including Firefox, Internet Explorer, Opera, Konqueror, Safari, Mozilla, and Netscape.
* Development support is available via a growing online community as well as commercially through NextApp.
* Open source licensing: Echo2 is provided under the Mozilla Public License (MPL).

Please visit http://www.nextapp.com/platform/echo2/echo for more information on the Echo2 framework, documentation, and downloads.

For an introduction to developing Echo2 applications, including a few brief code examples, visit the Echo2 Tutorial: http://www.nextapp.com/platform/echo2/echo/doc/tutorial/

About EchoStudio2

EchoStudio2 is an Eclipse 3.1-based IDE that enables rapid development of Echo2 applications. A WYSIWYG Form Editor allows true visual development. A stylesheet editor enables the creation of custom look-and-feel configurations. Additional tools are provided to run, debug, build deployable web archives, and refactor Echo2 projects. EchoStudio2 is a commercially-licensed product with a 30-day free trial and licenses starting at $499.

For more information on EchoStudio2, please visit http://www.nextapp.com/platform/echo2/echostudio