Posted in gwt, Information Technology, javascript

Why is GWT still relevant?

Introduction

Google Web Toolkit (GWT) is an AJAX toolkit that allows development of AJAX based web application wit the use of Java Programming.

Advantages

1. Most coding problems are caught during compile time.

2. Runs on all platforms

3. Runs on all browsers

4. When created Java code is compiled, specific AJAX code is generated for every browser (Write one set of code that can run on all browsers).

5. GWT includes a lot of pre-built components.

6. GWT is Object Oriented because it is based from Java which converts it to JS(JavaScript)

7. IDEs like Eclipse makes coding with Java easier by allowing quick coding, shortcuts, code generation, and code analysis.

8. The compiler removes dead code and minifies it. The code is split into separate JavaScript files that helps the application load gradually as you visit new screens.

9. Manages static resources. CSS and images in code requires explicit declaration in the Java code.

10. Have an inbuilt structure for server-side component.

GWT started off well as a framework that converts Java into JavaScript, but it did not stay like that for long. One of the big developers had with GWT was the initiate learning curve specially for people that did not use Java language before. It took people months to learn GWT properly and see and effective return on time investment, and even with months of learning it did not seem like it was worth their time to learn more about GWT.

Disadvantages

1. Requires Browser plugin for development. The browser is not being maintained to work with newer browsers. This made it difficult for developers to adopt this framework.

2. Every time you change coding from the client side you are required to recompile. This made developing with GWT slower compared to other frameworks. Developers are used to just quickly refreshing the browser to see the changes.

3. The UI for GWT was initially good but as time passed GWT did not improve, rather they stayed stagnant on the UI development side. This made it difficult to choose GWT over other frameworks.

4. The last update for GWT was October 19, 2017. This means that the developers of this framework have stopped trying to improve this framework (basically abandoned it).

The world was also moving towards cloud-based web applications. Google tried to bring back GWT to life by putting in enough resources to trying and evolve the GWT framework.

Evolution

1. In 2012 2.5.0 was released which laid the foundation for the SuperDev mode. SuperDev mode works better for the modern browsers which makes compiling and seeing the results faster.

2. History management — which allows the user to navigate in the application using the browser’s back and forward buttons.

3. Made the SuperDev mode the default for application building.

Challenges for teams initially

1. There is no standardization of framework — This can lead to confusing for the team on which one to choose.

2. If you want to improve the look and feel of the website/s the team creates you have to either create your own CSS or use CSS frameworks instead of using GWT’s UI design since it looks old and outdated.

3. Since there are only a few people and companies using GWT now most developers/companies will choose to use other frameworks.

Screenshot from: https://trends.builtwith.com/framework/Google-Web-Toolkit [1]

Conclusion

There are currently 43.360 websites using Google Web Toolkit (GWT)[1]. GWT was a good framework that converts Java into JavaScript but it had problems with keeping up with other frameworks that kept on evolving to what the developer needs and wants. Since after Google stopped developing GWT themselves the framework’s improvement have slowed down and that is when GWT started its decline in popularity. Most websites that are currently using GWT technology seem to be older websites because most developers will opt-out of using GWT as a framework because there are other frameworks that are better maintained and have kept up with the changes. It is best for developers to learn other frameworks than to learn GWT.

References

[1] “Google Web Toolkit Usage Statistics”, BuiltWith® Pty Ltd, https://trends.builtwith.com/framework/Google-Web-Toolkit

Accessed: 3/30/2019

[2] “Super Dev Mode” GWTProject.org, http://www.gwtproject.org/articles/superdevmode.html

Accessed: 3/30/2019

[3] “Overview” GWTProject.org, http://www.gwtproject.org/overview.html

Accessed: 3/30/2019

[4] “GWT is coming back … in 2015”, Blog.Xam.de, https://blog.xam.de/2014/02/gwt-is-coming-back-in-2015.html

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