What smart Java developers are mixing with their JavaScript

There is more to client side application development than simply knowing HTML5, CSS3 and a little jQuery. In this article we look at the other key technologies that enterprise developers are mixing with their JavaScript.

Do you like your venti JavaScript with a double-shot of JSON, a half pump of Node.js and two percent no whip Grunt with extra Tomcat sprinkles? The proliferation of tools and platforms available for JavaScript development and implementation is making it kind of hard to decide what to use these days. Let's take a look at some of the most talked about options in the JavaScript world over the last year.

Node.js continues to win the hearts and minds of enterprise developers with its mobile-friendly ways.

Jason Tee, Enterprise Software Architect

JSON for a slimmer web app?

Brian O'Neill recently wrote a provocative article entitled J2EE Is Dead - Long-live Javascript Backed by JSON Services. As you might expect, it sparked a vociferous debate with plenty of mudslinging in the comments. Even the author of the article admits that Java Enterprise Edition is still necessary for security features. But his company is playing with a lighter stack these days by pairing JavaScript developed in Sencha's ExtJS framework on the front-end with stub JSON files. These stubs are replaced with JAX-RS based services on the back end. Brian and his team have apparently done away with the servlets altogether.

JSON is proving to be quite helpful for JavaScript to server side communication. One commenter points out that event-driven architecture is making JavaScript knowledge highly relevant for server developers as well as client side developers. At the same time, when a writer says they think a technology is dying because they haven't used it in 8 years, you have to wonder if they are comparing apples to apples. The newer versions of Java EE are a lot more lightweight than the J2EE behemoth. Here on TheServerSide, people are still arguing over whether Spring or Java EE is better. So attempting to leave both behind is probably a bit of a stretch at this point.

Make Scala your second language

Knowing one's way around new languages like Scala helps server developers script more effectively. If you aren't familiar with Scala, you can get a primer right here on The Server Side. This functional programming language is earning quite a reputation among Java developers by making it easy to write expressive yet simple code. If you've heard that it's too complicated to use, think again. Josh Suereth, the guy who literally wrote the book on this programming language, says otherwise. Even for basic stuff, there are ways that Scala saves time. You can see a short and sweet example of a shortcut used in scripting with Scala at scabl.blogspot.com.

What's New from the Node?

Node.js continues to win the hearts and minds of enterprise developers with its mobile-friendly ways. It's also a good fit for businesses that are moving toward more JSON usage. The Node.js platform built on Chrome's JavaScript Runtime is designed to make it easy for developers to say, "I get by with a little help from my friends". Node has only been around for a few years, but it is growing fast – and very organically. Developers love to share, so being able to publish open source tools and widgets for others to play with and improve is a big part of the community spirit.

Norch (node + search) is one of the newest tools available from Node. It's billed as a basic, robust full text search server that's easy to set up. It's got some limitations, but you do get things like stopword removal, filtering and relevance weighting. Too bad the guys who named this search tool didn't do their own online search first. They might have found the word norch in the Urban Dictionary before they decided on the name. Let's just say that none of the definitions for this term are SFW.

Tomcat still roams the server side

Sometimes, it's not the newest tools that make your scripting better. It's learning how to use old ones properly. This street smart Apache feline continues to be a favorite servlet engine for server side web developers for testing and clustered production. However, that doesn't mean everyone is using it effectively. Configuration and optimization continue to be areas where many developers run into inefficiency. For example, if you are using JSF and Spring for easy debugging during development, you have to be sure these settings don't roll over into the production environment. Configuring Tomcat properly (and permanently) on the application server safeguards against time-sucking performance problems. You can find a wealth of current information here.

What are your favorite new scripting tools and techniques? Let us know.

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